A majority of Americans identify as being unhappy today. Eight of ten feel our country is out of control. There aren’t many statistics in life that have reached that high of majority, primarily when it is negative. Let it settle in that those polled are our neighbors, our friends, and our family.
It may be we come up with excuses as to why. Justifications such as the fact we have suffered from a pandemic with fears of loss, uncertainty, and grief. Or that the shutdown led to an economic crisis with lost jobs, confinement in homes, isolated shortages of products, children pulled from school, and adults unable to go to work. Yet, I think it may be more profound than that!
As life appeared to be improving, we watched a man gunned down in Georgia while jogging, a man asphyxiated by a person in uniform carrying a badge. Then we witnessed a man with a seemingly simple DUI arrest conclude with a shot ending his life. These three men were black. Protests both civil and otherwise arose. The unrest brought to the forefront perceived and real inequities in our justice system. These incidents may have highlighted what has been going on for some time in our country. But, I think it may be more profound than that too!
We used to turn to educational and social institutions, government, media, and leaders for guidance. It was there we gained the hope and clarity we needed as a nation. These institutions no longer seem like a place of unity. An example may be the media. It used to be a place to turn to for some semblance of accuracy in tempering emotion. The freedom the press enjoyed was designed to keep us informed or act as a referee, someone who we may not have always liked but respected. Not so much anymore. However, I think it may be more profound than that as well!
My belief is the unhappiness we feel is due to a modern-day polarization that is occurring with current technologies. We are in an endless tug-of-war with two extremes pulling as hard as they can toward their side. It is constant tension, relentless angst, and continuous agitation. Adding the above factors, no wonder at times the pain is unbearable and people are moved to actions often foreign to our normal lives!
Yet, as a nation, we are far from polarized! The evidence is all around us. We voted for Obama then Trump, we have a Republican Senate and Democrat House. We are split fifty-fifty with only a slight variation to the right or left at any given time.
For our nation to heal, for individuals to find happiness again, we need to meet in the middle. We can get to the center in two ways, how we are doing it now, with both sides relentlessly pulling, or we can throw down the imaginary rope and walk to the center seeking areas of unity, and consensus. Finding common ground doesn’t suggest forfeiting values, it merely highlights our similarities. It sets aside the fringe elements the media endlessly promotes giving us hope in humanity.
It is up to us to stop the tug-of-war filled with fear for the future that will certainly divide us. It won’t be the institutions that will lead us; there is too much money to be made in conflict. Anger and fear are profitable; unity is not. It is we the people. People of good conscience if we are to emerge from this season of unrest. America is the greatest experiment in world history; we have proven that when we are united, we succeed in filling the earth with goodness and opportunity.
My question to you is whether or not it is worth it? I can tell you it is for me, and I am willing to try. To continue with the learning, growing, and improving, knowing each new day is a chance at making the world a better place. It will make us happy again; we can control our destiny. Bless us to each walk to our common ground, building strength in our diversity and do so enthusiastically while filled with humility.