I’ve started and stopped writing this post about once a week for the last month. It started off as basically an admission of panic. It seemed like the world was collapsing and I wanted to help, but I had no idea how to…
There’s so many people and places that need help in some fashion or another:
Hurricanes and typhoons in record numbers and strength all over the world.
Fires blanketing the western US.
As I write this sentence, in the last 36 days, over 100 people have died in mass shootings in America.
Refugee crises in Syria, Sudan, and elsewhere.
Floods and mudslides in Sierra Leone killing hundreds.
An ever-growing uneasiness and tension among American society, largely divided along racial lines.
And all the while, a woman sits at the exit of the parking lot to my favorite lunch spot, holding a sign that says, “Hungry Please Help God Bless”
Finances are tight for me, but I could probably spare a bit here and there for a donation. My time is in short supply, but I could probably find a couple days a month to volunteer somewhere. But none of this seems like enough. What difference will my 20 bucks or few hours a month make? Any? Maybe. It’s worth a shot. Maybe it only changes one life, maybe it only makes one person’s day a little better. But maybe that’s worth it.
As the emergencies multiply and tensions escalate all around us, the voices are rising too. Political commentators/news anchors shout at each other on our TV’s. Twitter has become nothing more than a massive hate-fest consisting of bite-sized viewpoints and personal attacks in 140 characters or less. It’s barely even possible to drive two blocks without seeing at least one viewpoint plastered all over the back of a hybrid car or a lifted truck, respectively.
The voices that are rising the loudest are the most extreme. There is no room for compromise or for understanding with them. Anyone who doesn’t agree in full is the enemy… And these voices are becoming rallying points. Polls are showing more division today in American society than any other time in the last 40 years, and on some topics, more division than any time since the civil war.
The saddest part to me is how many people I have spoken to or read comments from who are genuinely shocked when they meet someone with an opposing opinion and they don’t hate them. They come face to face with someone who they would see as evil incarnate if they were posting on a comment thread. Then instead of punching them, they politely disagree with each other, and maybe learn something in the process. It’s the civility that shocks them; the idea that the people on the other side of this massive divide aren’t actually different from themselves is somehow a revelation to them. That’s heartbreaking.
I truly believe that the majority of people in our society are moderate. People would agree on more than they realize if they would just give discussion a chance. The problem is that the only voices we are listening to are the loudest voices on the edges of these discussions. We’re listening to a handful of people on a stage screaming into megaphones instead of turning and talking to the person standing next to us in the crowd.
To get to my point for this post, I don’t have much to give as far as money or time. I don’t have the capability to go to a storm or fire ravaged community and rebuild. I don’t have the ability to give comfort to those who have lost loved ones or to heal a community ripped apart by violence. All I really have is my voice.
It’s small, it’s not particularly loud. I don’t have many people listening to me, and I’m not entirely sure why the few people that do listen continue to do so… But my voice is all I have. And a voice can grow. More importantly, a single voice may be able to start a conversation; and ten thousand conversations could drown out a few loud voices.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I have opinions on all of this chaos, and they may be all I have that is worth anything. I’m going to be giving voice to those opinions. I hope you will too, because if just one person can find something of worth out of the conversations, then it will have been an opinion well voiced.
I’ll leave you with this today… The next time you get into a rage because some commentator said such and such about so and so, take a deep breath before picking a fight in the comments section. Find someone to talk to, someone that you don’t usually talk to about these things, and get their opinion. Maybe it won’t change a thing; but maybe it will.
And if you can’t think of anyone to talk to, or you want a moderate opinion and don’t know where to find one, reach out to me. I’m always happy to have a discussion.