11/30/15

Who We Are . . .

Welp . . . it happened again on Friday. Another lunatic decided to end a bunch of lives and permanently alter even more while chipping away at our general sense of comfort and security (and by "our" I mean the whole world at this point). And I guess the question is . . . who are we?

And I mean that in a million different ways . . . who are we? What do we stand for? What do we care about? How do we handle disagreements? How do we handle stress? Who moved my cheese? Can I wear these shoes after Labor Day? Does any of this matter anyway?

Did we ever have a unified approach? Were "we" ever a population that could be simply explained or that had common values? Simple answer - no. We never were. But I think we used to be closer to that idyllic version of "we" in that we used to at least pretend to have the greater good at heart when things went screwy. Sure, sure . . . it was all lip service and we've not always been the nicest kids on the playground (Japanese internment camps, turning away boats of Jews during the Holocaust, slavery, suffrage fights, racism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, the only nation in the world to drop "the bomb" on another nation, etc. etc. etc.) but as a society and culture we would collectively gasp when the cue was there and we'd put aside petty differences and acknowledge wrongs and woes (ignoring that the confederate flag still flies in America (I'm trying to make a point here, forgive me.)).

But I look at the things happening the last few weeks and we're truly breaking down. Paris lead to cries of outrage and horror. Refugees should be refused, Muslims should be tracked, we should be afraid - that is what our leaders and candidates for President were shouting. Then something of smaller scale but equal "wrongedness" happens here (the neighboring state for Kansans like me) and everyone stays quiet. I've not seen a single Facebook avatar with the Colorado flag super-imposed on the smiling face of the dummy running the account. And our leaders who were full of vitrol and fire, noting that this recent crisis doesn't fit their narrative or the agendas of their constituents/base just say . . . nothing.

And don't make this about Christianity (there was no Jesus in that gunman's actions) or abortion (there are disputes on if the right to choose was even in the motivations) or gun control (most early reports show the gunman to be not "all there") or the price of tea at the supermarket. To do any of that is to further schism who "we" are.

Here's what we should be doing . . . staying resolved that to take a gun and shoot twelve (killing three) is not okay. Ever. EVER. Here's what we should be doing . . . isolating our agendas around abortion from our agendas around shooting strangers who just happened to "be there". Here's what we should be doing . . . demanding leadership from those either aspiring to be or elected to lead.

Instead we had people too focused on Black Friday and football games and holiday weekends to even stop and acknowledge this thing happened - and that it ended the lives of people just trying to live their lives and have a Friday. We fill our heads and hearts with noise because maybe things are too real and too stressful without the white noise to drown it all out.

If we can quiet all the noise . . . if we can focus on the real issue or issues (I'm presuming - and might be proven wrong - this is an issue of a mentally unwell person acting in horrible ways) we can start to have a real conversation and we can figure out who we are; what we care about, what we will tolerate, what we won't accept, how we can be better, how we can get back to being a country the world admires full of citizens worthy of the honor of being Americans.

Who are we?