Last night I got off the plane from a business trip and rushed home to kiss my sleeping daughters. All I wanted to do was get home to them. In the aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy in Texas, and on the heels of last weekend’s racially motivated massacre in Buffalo, something just broke. I sent a message this morning to my circle of friends pleading, y’all I’m struggling over here, when is enough going to be enough? This morning we talked with the girls about everything going on and just shared our own gratitude for being safe and protected in this moment while acknowledging what we can’t control. One of the girls asked me, are we safe at our own school? I answered honestly, baby girl, you’re surrounded by a community of people who are vigilant and love you, and yet… I couldn’t quite finish my thought.
The truth is, the adults in the room are failing her. We’re failing each other. After a morning of venting with a close friend, I think I know why. We’re doing it wrong, our public discourse, the way we solve problems as a society, our political process. That’ probably not a surprise to anyone. In fact, most surveys indicate that everyone agrees on how disagreeable we are with one another! We’re less interested in finding common ground, less civil in our debates, and more interested in being right than being in relationship with one another.
Is it any wonder then that we struggle to find common ground on serious problems in our society, when very few people care to meet in the middle? There’s a quote attributed to Jesus that I love. His closest followers are questioning, why does he speak in stories and why do they seem to get the meaning of them but no one else does? Jesus replies, because a loveless world is a sightless world.
We’ve lost sight of what it means to truly see each other. If we did, we would absolutely grieve together right now. We would sit with those who are hurting and connect with their pain. We would be in this moment, together with them, not looking explain away their anger, hurt, frustration, or sadness. But be willing to find that place in ourselves right now.
In doing so, I’ll bet this changes our decision calculus about what’s important. I’d be more willing to advocate alongside you when I understand you, when I really see you. It’s about acknowledging our common humanity. I can’t demonize the other side when I’m not taking sides.
And so, I’ll do here what I’ve already done with my own close circle of friends this morning. Consider this a call to action. Are you numb to what’s been going on because quite frankly it’s too exhausting, or you’re afraid to say or do the wrong thing? Maybe the first step is to talk with someone, a close friend who knows you and can hold you accountable to your values. We should all be reflecting in this moment about what we value, and ask ourselves, is this a reflection of those values? (Notice I didn’t say, what you believe. Beliefs are different than values). I suspect that even for those of us on opposite sides of the conversation, we likely share some similar values. Perhaps we should start there as our way forward together.
But for the sake of our communities, and the children that we should be modeling the right behavior for, doing nothing is no longer an option. They’re watching to see what we do next, they always are.