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.
It may be that we can’t begin to imagine what it is like to be the victim of profiling or being unjustly accused of a crime. It may be that we don’t know what it is like to worry about putting food on the table or fighting disability. It may seem as though fairness is unevenly distributed. No matter who we are, it may be that we can’t honestly know what it feels like to be someone else.
That doesn’t mean we don’t care! It doesn’t mean we can’t do our part in seeking justice, maximizing possibility, and making influences where needed. It may seem daunting at times, but that is when it is needed the most. It is the media that is maximizing differences at a time we should rejoice in our similarities.
Organizations and governments are nothing but people. It is on us to come together. We will never regret offering people the chance to be treated the way we’d like to be treated. It goes around. It is the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.
I believe it is our nature to shy away from problems when they appear too large. We may feel a sense that there isn’t enough time or resources to make them go away. Yet, when we look back and realize the many difficulties we have overcome, we see that our success came from tackling small parts over time. There isn’t anything we can’t do if we take it step by step and are persistent in moving in a positive direction. While today’s troubles seem daunting, I hope each one of us works toward common goals of improving one day, one person, one opportunity at a time.
Think with me for a minute about the times you most enjoyed your interactions with others. If they are like mine, it is when you come across someone kind, someone honest, someone patient, or someone filled with empathy. Are you one that others may have thought about when asked for your reflection above? I hope we all are; it is what makes our world a better place. They are simple, ordinary everyday human touches that will shape our future.
When someone asks how you are doing, is your reply fine? When we answer in this way, we are telling ourselves the same thing! Why we would accept fine when we can be so much more.
Are you aware that for us to accomplish an ideal, a dream, a hope, we need no more energy than what is required to get out of bed when the alarm goes off? Think when you push the snooze button, you accept that you aren’t willing to do what you had hoped for when you set the alarm. If, on the other hand, you get right out and going about your day, you have succeeded in meeting an expectation.
Now, with the understanding of the small energy required to start on your path to success, you need only understand one more tip. Success doesn’t always come on our first try. Have you ever flown standby on an airline? Some who are fortunate can get on the first flight; they have more status (experience) than others and move onto the plane right away. Yet, all who are willing to wait (keep trying) will eventually get on the plane.
When you commit to using the small amount of energy needed to accomplish your goal, just remember, you may need to do it a few times to get the desired outcome. It will always come to those who are willing to wait for their turn.