I’m not sure what is going on in the United States right now. It doesn’t feel good to me. Political and racial tensions I read about in the news, and witness as scrolling dialogue in social media, and what I watch on TV, and see on the internet create feelings of disbelief and sadness in me. Division, separation, and polarization are becoming our most defining characteristic as a country. I am clearly at a loss to understand why so many people are trapped in fear.
I’m calling it fear because I believe most people want to be kind, want to be generous, want to help and extend a hand to their fellow Americans, or more importantly, their fellow man. Fear blocks this. Fear is the emotion that shuts down these beneficial impulses needed for a society to thrive.
I think many people are grossly confused at who or what is the real enemy, the true threat in America. Practices and speech that promote division between races, sexes, orientations, and religions are some of the most damaging. Divisions that cause large segments of society to move in force against each other will tear down the entire society. No one wins. Stalemate.
Or maybe oppression, disregard, and in-humanity become the victor. This is not victory; this will not create a sustainable society of growth and opportunity. This will not create a place where our children can succeed and thrive, and live their greatest potential.
There are other divisions created through fear mongering: differences in political affiliation, organizational membership, economic class, and education are other areas where fear births an “us vs them” and “better than, less than” mentality. Division. Strife. Hate speech. Violence. End of a society as we have known it?
We need to join together as men and women, conservatives and liberals, black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, religion and non, nationals and globals, guns and control, factory and board room, trade shop and ivory tower to find our common ground, our common humanity to move us forward.
We need to use the best in each one of us to create the best for all of us.
There are over 300 million people in the United States; this is a big ship to steer. From my viewpoint, I see us all on only one ship. If our ship sinks we will all be treading water, many will drown, some will swim to safer shores, but our ship will have sunk. Titanic event.
It is time to listen. Time to look for our points of common interest where we can begin to build, reconstruct, and prepare our country for the next 250 years of living together; in peace, with hope, creating opportunities and possibilities for everyone to demonstrate kindness, be generous in spirit and material, and be able, in love, to extend a hand and pull our brother or sister up so we all travel safely.
What can you and I do to stop hate, end the proliferation of fear, and take responsibility for the future of our country? Here are a few ideas:
1. Be responsible.
Fact check– before you hit share or send on social media educate yourself on what is true and what is not; what is fact and what is opinion. Take responsibility to not propagate mis-information.
2. Be transparent.
Discuss what you believe in, not what you are against- how will your beliefs and/or actions promote unity, possibilities, prosperity, love and kindness for and toward everyone. Maybe this is what you want, maybe not. State plainly what you want.
3. Be curious.
Listen– to what others, who are not like you, have to offer. Look for what you can learn; discover areas you can become more informed. Listening doesn’t mean agreeing; it does mean not being defensive.
4. Be accountable.
Recognize boundaries– not just where your own begin, but where they must end so as not to interfere with someone else’s. You are accountable for your actions and behavior, not anyone else’s.
5. Choose love.
Let love be the rudder that steers your own ship. Let love be the place you draw from to practice numbers 1-4 above.
We need men and women in our country who will choose to be leaders in their families, communities, states, and this nation…albeit the world, to successfully guide our ship. Now is not the time for any of us to live small and hide. Change for all of us is in the wind; constructs of how we will choose to live together are forming. Division is creating dark and turbulent clouds over our waters.
Will love or fear be the rudder that guides us as we navigate this brewing storm?