“It’s been a long, long time coming but I know a change gon’ come. Oh yes it will!” Jackie Wilson
I can’t remember a recent time when I’ve felt as broken as I do in this moment. Like most people, I heard the news yesterday about the nine people gunned down in a South Carolina church yesterday evening and it hit me… hard. So much has happened in our nation and I have been silent; not because I didn’t have an opinion or because I didn’t have anything to say. I stayed silent because I honestly didn’t know where or if my voice fit into the conversation.
Things have been heated on all sides. At different points I have been angry, sad, afraid, numb, and now I’m weary of it all. I’ve grown tired of the hatred, the anger, and the debates which never seem to bring about any real progress or change. I’ve purposely stayed away from most of the posts and commentaries, but what I have read didn’t speak to the dialogue that I believe needs to take place.
Here’s the deal as I see it. America is broken in many ways and on many levels, and it needs to be fixed. The proof is in the examples that bombard us every day stemming from undaddressed issues that have been buried below the surface for years and are now erupting in distrubing ways. That includes racism, sexism, classism (basically all the isms!), and general fear and distrust of anything unfamilair or uncomfortable. In the midst of this it seems we as a nation have lost the ability to engage in difficult conversations. There is very little attempt or desire to try to see another person’s point of view or understand any experience that is not our own. This is a very dangerous place to be because it opens the door to all kinds of unspeakable behavior against one another. If I don’t see you as a person, if I don’t know anything about your journey, then shooting you isn’t difficult. In fact it may even be justified in my mind if I perceive you as a threat to my survival.
The social climate of political correctness has everybody afraid to say how they truly feel about things for fear they will say it wrong. Many times honest expression is what would spark a meaningful dialogue that could lead to mutual understanding and possibly some kind of resolution – even if it’s only a decision to respectfully disagree on a given issue. Instead people hold it in or release in inappropriate ways. Instead of addressing issues, we launch personal attacks on one another’s character which doesn’t solve anything. It’s as if the point is to argue and prove our ‘rightness’ rather than to reconcile. As we are seeing, this pattern becomes the most frightening of vicious cycles with no end in sight.
Social media, while it has the potential for good, has also made it easy for people to spew hate and fuel dissension and division behind the “safety” of a computer screen. Sadly the more “connected” we are, the more distant we become. I used to laugh at my mom for still physically going to the bank to conduct business. I’ve tried for years without success to convince her to get a bank card or to bank online so she won’t be beholden to bankers hours, but she refuses. I didn’t realize the significance until she took a fall a few winters ago and I had to make her deposits for her. The side eyes and questions I got from the tellers about who I was and how/where Mrs. Cardoso was… It truly hit me that they actually know her there and they took notice when someone other than my mom was making changes to her account! I don’t know anyone at my bank. Actually, it’s an online bank, so anyone can pretend to be me and do transactions and no one would ever be the wiser! It’s become like this in so many areas and we’ve become desensitized to the humanity that is all around us.
Ok, that’s the problem. So now what’s the fix? I have no idea. I honestly wish I knew, but I don’t have the answers. Here’s the thing though, I have a few answers/suggestions that when combined with yours, and his, and hers, and theirs could turn this thing around for the better. I am so willing to start THAT conversation and I pray there are others willing to do the same. In the mean time I plan to continue to pray and stay on the lookout for divine connections with like-minded individuals. I commit to speak up and speak out even if I stand alone. I commit to being an active part in the change I want to see in my country and in the world; especially if it can spare someone else having to feel as broken as I feel in this moment. I feel just a little more put together now that I’ve broken my silence and gotten this off my chest. My prayer for you is that you would be encouraged; I know I am.