We fail many times throughout our lives, far more likely than we succeed. What keeps us marching on this path towards progress?
Because we know the waves of our successes strip away the tides of our failures.
The world is falling in on itself. We are witnessing a seemingly global phenomenon not seen in nearly a hundred years. A sense of selfishness has fallen across many countries around the world, the United States included, where we clutch tightly to our own hearts not because we are, in fact, selfish, but because we are frightened. The world is changing rapidly, faster for some than for others, and when change happens we dive deeper within ourselves to hide away and seek out what makes us comfortable. It’s not that we want to be selfish. It’s the only thing we know that can truly make us feel safe. It’s not selfishness we want. We want safety.
We’ve come to a crossroads in our history. Do we stick to our guns (sometimes, unfortunately, literally) or do we seek out a common ground with those of different ideologies and beliefs? It seems our divide continuously grows each and every day. Now is the time to turn to our neighbors who believe differently than us and understand their way of thinking; to understand how they came to their decisions on certain policy points or beliefs; and reach a consensus where we can be brothers and sisters with one another again rather than the partisan enemies we’ve become.
I myself have treaded in these partisan waters. I am no innocent bystander. After the election on November 8th I was ready to cut myself off from all Trump supporters and those who voted for him. Then I remembered something Bobby Kennedy said in South Africa while protesting the abhorrent polices of Apartheid:
But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?
How can we be against one another based off partisan beliefs when we don’t even know the person? Who are we to judge those who are born into different sections of society? We need to first learn to understand those we oppose instead of simply opposing them for the sake of opposing.
So how do we do this? Instead of cutting those who don’t hold your beliefs out of your life, communicate with them, have a dialogue with them, and understand one another as human beings rather than as a political ideology. That means finding common ground on who you we are as human beings rather than closing each other off, which only destroys the bridge to link us together and puts us all out to sea with no hope of rescue. Don’t start with what you disagree about. Always start with the belief that you both are coming from a sense of goodness, and not looking for a fight. Instead of belittling a person for their stances on certain issues, be they on abortion, gun control, education, or even if they put their milk in a bowl before the cereal, find out why they came to this position.
For example, many people I’ve spoken to who consider themselves pro-choice feel this way because either they themselves or someone they know went through an event which may have led them to needing an abortion. The same goes for every other issue you can think of. Something always shapes the way we think, and once we understand that about the other person we disagree with we can finally see them as simply another person like ourselves trying to get by in this chaotic mess we call life.
I dream of a world where we can understand one another as human beings, regardless of our ethnicity, gender, age group, or political party. We consistently cry out for a world that works together but refuse to understand that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are those people that can end these political divides and heal the racisms and other forms of bigotry around the world.
It starts with us, and no one else can ignite that flame of change until we first strike that match to watch it burn. And even if we fail, we’ll know that we’ve at least lit that spark of compassion and love this world so desperately needs, and the torch will be passed along. I promise.