I am a strong believer in individual rights. I also believe that my country was founded on the premise that multiple viewpoints are acceptable and that this is a nation where all citizens are valued. One nation, unified by our commitment to freedom, liberty and justice. Thousands have died fighting for our democratic ideal, given their very lives for the society we enjoy.
Is this utopia? No. Are there issues that need to be addressed? Absolutely. We will accomplish those goals through working together. We will not achieve anything through screaming, vitriolic posts or gunning down police officers in the street.
We each have our go-to issues. Perhaps gay rights is your personal cause or Black Lives Matter. Perhaps you have faced weight discrimination or suffered at the hands of a bully. Perhaps you are an immigrant seeking to improve conditions in your neighborhood or are trying to remove corruption from government. Maybe you choose to fight against childhood hunger or for abused women. Good for each and every one of you. Keep on fighting the good fight. These battles must be won.
But address your cause as an adult, a conscientious member of society. Respect your fellow man and allow opinions that differ from your own. Don’t fall prey to the feeding frenzy of emotion and mob intellect. Be conscious of how the press and peers opinions have impacted your own thoughts. Think carefully before taking action and ask the important questions: Is this really the best approach to accomplish my objective? Am I causing collateral damage? Am I spreading as much negativity as I am helping the downtrodden? What is my own signature imprint that I am making upon the world? Am I respectful of all?
We have gotten accustomed to thinking of ourselves as individuals first and members of society second. We want to shine goodness from every pore and do it in as public a way as possible, that we may feed our own egos and surround ourselves with admirers. In the process we are destroying the best single example of human cooperation and brotherhood that our world has ever known.
Our motivations are good but we are not thinking. We are acting on pure emotion without the intellectual framework necessary for real growth. We are better than the acts currently peppering our front pages. I know students, brilliant students who are throwing their hearts behind worthy causes and in the process are rending holes in the fabric of society.
Stop spreading intolerance. Stop aggravating and exacerbating. Causing more rifts in a struggling society is not helpful. If you are busy judging others then you are part of the problem. Put condemnation aside. Appreciate the positives of the world you are inhabiting. Maintain your equilibrium. Keep a balanced perspective. Stand up but be upstanding.
Sounds trite, yet is easier said than accomplished. It is understandable to be angry or frustrated with the status quo. Violence and mockery is the easy response. Sarcasm makes us feel clever as does looking down from a position of moral superiority. Try taking the actual high road. Stop posturing long enough to really listen and strive for common middle ground, for understanding. Build rather than destroy.
We are supposed to be indivisible…one nation working together towards the betterment of ourselves, not a thousand little groups angrily hurling their insights at the nearest target. We are all members of the same team. Teamwork and respect does not preclude appreciation for the individual. I am proud to be an American. I am also proud of my own heritage, logic and belief system. I try to be the best person I know how to be. Part of my process is to want betterment for all of us, which means not tearing down or trampling other individuals in order to meet my objective.
Our children will inherit the nation we leave them. I wish our legacy to be a country founded on principle where we work together in harmony and respect, a nation that not only lives up to but exceeds the visions of our founding fathers. It is possible if we remember cooperation and what being a productive team member really means. God bless the families suffering from intolerance in this nation. Grant us the wisdom, patience and love to see to our personal agendas while still functioning as a unified , enlightened people lucky enough to live in the United States of America.