Which life would you rather live?
One filled with connections, activity, and motion?
Or one of autonomy, calm, and stillness?
Thankfully, we don't have to choose one lifestyle over the other, since an authentic life isn't black or white. And yet, what's been happening in our country strikes me as profoundly so -- this visceral sense of "we're right" and "they're wrong" and "that's that" so "end of story".
You see it, too, right?
You know what I'm talking about, don't you?
We've somehow become this nation of "all-or-nothings", screaming from our uptight little corners about whatever it is we believe.
We either love or hate Trump.
We either respect or despise Obama.
We're either pro- or anti- gun.
We're either Democrat or Republican, gosh darn it, and those labels seem to matter now, more than ever before.
We're either one...or the other...but nowhere in-between.
And it's only in that in-between, I think, where positive change tends to happen. It's where we find the sweet spot of an argument, where both sides stand to benefit from snippets of shared wisdom. Problem is, we're all screaming way too loud these days, acting tough and smart and intense and confident. It seems we're drowning out our chances of hearing the other side.
The reality is, we're all scared.
You know you're scared, and you might not want to say it. No one does. But seriously...
...you're scared someone's going to take all your money.
...you're scared someone will come in and shoot up your school.
...you're scared you won't get meaningful legislation passed.
...you're scared someone might push a nuclear button and make everything go away.
...you're scared someone's peeking at your private information.
...you're scared about people not seeing the problems that you see.
...you're scared we've gone too long and too far on too many issues to remain intact.
...you're scared no one's watching over us with any sense of purpose.
...you're scared about the fact that no one seems to be in charge.
...you're scared of our history, and how it tends to repeat itself.
...you're scared we don't reflect upon our history enough.
...you're scared you haven't done enough.
...you're scared too few of us are doing anything meaningful.
...you're scared it might be too late to bring things back to center.
...you're scared we're moving in strange and uncomfortable directions.
...you're scared about things changing faster than anyone can process them.
And you're you're scared of the vast and unwieldy unknown.
But you know what else?
You're not alone.
You're facing these fears along with everyone else.
It can feel futile. Isolating. Terrifying. Overwhelming. We're all scared of something, and that, right there, is our in-between. That fear? That scary space? That's where we break through the screeching inertia and move ourselves forward.
We're all shivering, in one way or another, trying to find our way in these uncertain times, shouting about what we ought to do next, working ourselves into lathers.
Working ourselves...but how about working together?
How about acknowledging that none of us wants to be like this...divided, skittish, on edge, and exhausted? How about lowering our angry raised voices, and putting down our clenched, raised fists, and speaking instead with genuine reflection, rather than such deafening insistence?
As one who encourages and celebrates the individual voice, I firmly believe that our nation has lost its ability to hear itself. I think we're straining under a crescendo of outspoken viewpoints.
I think we need to settle in to the in-between, which means we desperately need to listen.
So please, please, listen.
Listen to the fears inside your heart. We all have them.
Listen to our young people who are telling us what they need.
Listen for the amazing potential in the changes happening around us, and try not to let echoes of the past suggest failure in moving forward.
Try, if you can, not to insist it was "better back then", because, I'm so sorry to say this, but we can't go "back". Thank God for the past, and please never let it go. But accept the fact that we must move forward, even if that feels like the scariest thing of all.
Change feels like a mountain sometimes, doesn't it?
Just remember: moving forward is how we get anywhere and everywhere.
So, let's stop screaming. Let's step away from our corners. And let's really start listening to one another.
What is it that you're most afraid of? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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