Politics has always been personal, but now we are in a strange place. We are divided as a country, but still: we all seem to want the same thing. Freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; good jobs, access to quality healthcare, good schools, and well…the list goes on.
Our new President has exposed our flaws as a country, and as individuals. We aren’t as united as we thought, or as tolerant – looking out for ourselves instead of helping others. We want to keep our jobs even if it means our co-workers are fired and laid off from theirs. Neighbors can get deported as long as we are comfortable in our own homes.
Is this really who we want to be?
We should have seen this coming, the petty behavior among politicians, as well as among us civilians. I look at dating, and the way we treat each other – and have been treating each other the past few years. It seems like we don’t take care of each other anymore. We don’t speak kindly to strangers we’ve just met unless we think they are worth our time and effort, judging and dismissing without a second thought. We have not only stopped being polite, we’ve stopped thinking that civility ever mattered.
Online dating profiles are not real people anymore, either, so we can toss them aside.
We ghost, or message without ever intending to meet. We are late without explanation, or don’t even show. But this doesn’t matter. These dates are only important in context with our own lives and desires. We matter. They don’t.
I’ve been thinking a lot about all of this lately. I have friends and family who think that I’m crazy for being despondent right now about the state of the world, the state of our country, the state of our very hearts as Americans. But I’m not, I’m scared for us. I’m scared for what we’ve become.
Are we tossing aside our own humanity?
I want us to be better. To be more caring. I want us to cheer for each other to succeed, but not at the expense of others. Most people don’t believe they are racist, or sexist, or anti-semitic. And yet, how many of us are willing to stand up and fight for the rights of others if it is an inconvenience? If it doesn’t affect you, why should you take action?
Here’s why: our humanity is at stake. Our compassion, our hearts, our very way of being. I think back to 9/11 and how we all came together, how so many people donated and volunteered, and how much compassion we had for one another. But now, it’s as though we’ve taken those feelings and inverted them. We want to separate from everyone who isn’t like us. We want to build our own walls around us – physically and emotionally – to keep us safe.
But here’s what I know: building walls doesn’t make you safe. Reaching out to your neighbors and talking to them, trying to understand people who don’t look like you – this is what matters. Getting to know other people keeps us safe, because it helps us understand and confront our own irrational fears. Then we are acting from a place of compassion, and not from a place of fear.
Because the simple truth is, humanity is all of us. Even if we try to ignore it, the truth is always there: we are all in this together. We need each other, and always will.