There’s a low rumbling in America today. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably noticed. Kind of like the undertones of thunder just before a big storm. We are hearing and seeing the disgruntled thoughts of many people. From the election drama to the Black Lives Matter movement to the way we are handling the crisis in the Aleppo and beyond. To be blunt, people are pissed. Some of you may think we are already amidst the storm, but I really don’t think so. I don’t make light of the anger or the demonstrations, peaceful or otherwise, currently clogging all of our newsfeeds. But, for lack of better terms, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
You see, we are all caught up in a thought trap today. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we have established for ourselves a parameter of mindset that we will be darned to remove ourselves from. “This is how it is!” Am I right? Many of us blatantly refuse to consider stepping aboard any other thought trains.
So, this raises a question for me – Why? Why must our opinions remain steadfast? Why does it have to be one way or another? This or that. Black or white. Furthermore, who decided that progressives and conservatives should start throwing the playbook at one another? These are precarious times. We currently have people who want to transform society and others who want to bring back the older more traditional ways. Welcome to the thought trap. What to choose? That is the question.
I see value in both sides of the argument, don’t you? There’s something really special about upholding and continuing traditions that built up and held together one of the world’s greatest superpowers. However, there is also something thought provoking about the word “change”. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but even the noblest of ideas started out as a prototype and had to go through tweaks and upgrades. Of course we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water. But at the same time, as a country we cannot stay the same as the world changes around us. At an alarming pace, too, I might add.
We really are the music makers and the dreamers of dreams, as the famous line goes. We are also the creators of our own sh*t storms these days. Has anyone thought about that?
Take this whole Kaepernick drama for example. I will be the first to admit that my opinion was quick and derogatory when I heard that an NFL player refused to stand for our national anthem. My views on patriotism are extreme and very sincere. I am not ashamed of that. They come from a soulful place of all that is good and solid about my upbringing. But, I had several conversations with friends who did not agree with my feels. I listened to their opinions and they listened to mine. And this piece is not for me to sit here and tell you what to believe. No, this piece is for me to remind you that we are all human. And sometimes that knee-jerk reaction of ours needs a little more thought.
I don’t have to agree with the national anthem demonstrations and I don’t have to support them. But just because it’s not my bag doesn’t mean I get to shut down and stop listening those who feel strongly about the trending kneel. I consider myself a fairly open-mind individual, but this took me a good two weeks to conclude after disagreeing with my friends. Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
At the end of the day, we can’t tell people what to think or how to feel. Many aren’t going to listen if we try. At some point we have to accept that the whole world will not agree with us. We are better than that anyway, aren’t we? Regardless of your religion, can we all concur that many times Jesus spoke in parables because people react better to something thought provoking rather than direct commands?
Social media gives all of us the freedom to voice an opinion these days. That in itself is mind boggling and amazing! Now, with that expansion in technology, we’ve got to learn how to open ourselves up to the vast array of opinions in this world without feeling so darned insulted.
We all need to stop being so self-involved, if that makes sense. Of course, this is my opinion and you are free to disagree. I’m a huge supporter of traditions and the importance of legacy, but we DO need to start a conversation that grants opportunities to everyone. I am here to shout that fair does not always mean equal in this world. As a woman, I have to acknowledge every day that the pay scale for a man in certain industries will be larger than what I might make doing the same job. My snarky snark side wants to say something snide about how I would do it better, but I know that changes nothing. As a teacher, I see children from poverty struggle every day because of lack of opportunity and exposure compared to their white collar family peers. This is unfortunate and, if you spend any time in a classroom, you know it’s quite sad.
It’s not a perfect world. And there are no black and whites to any of this. But, getting ourselves caught up in the thought trap makes us more part of the problem than the solution. If we could all attempt shifting lenses to acknowledge the many shades of gray and willingly come to the table ready to listen rather than retort. This is when good things happen.