Here we sit about a year into Covid, having survived what seems to be the most crazy year in the history of mankind. I like to think that I have become a fairly optimistic person, though still often relying on my realist predisposition. While I still see so much good in the world on a daily basis, there is a lurking, very dark demon at work that is being ignored. Our country is in the deep end of a divide unlike any of us have seen and I think if we are all honest with ourselves, it's completely terrifying. Everywhere we look there is negativity, hate, judgement, violence. We live with a constant fear of what is lurking around the corner, afraid to openly express our frustrations, beliefs, and viewpoints, not knowing when life will return to what it once was...or if it will at all. You know that my writings are usually light and heart filled but this one has been begging me to write it so I am going to step into a more serious space here...
We turn on the news, open social media, do a Google search and we are bombarded with the same headlines, the same words: the political divide, BLM vs blue lives, everything surrounding Covid, to mask or not to mask, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. As with anything, people are all forming their own beliefs, making their own choices, and because of that, there is a level of human indecency growing uncontrollably and it is the unspoken predator that no one is talking about, the one we really need to fear. I am not here to take sides, to talk politics, to discuss vaccinations; I'm here to show you what is hiding in plain sight.
At the turn of the year, I had a post that blew up on social media; it completely derailed from the original intent and turned into a heated argument over masking and not masking. There were terribly hurtful things that got posted and it left me feeling numb for weeks. The post doesn't matter, truthfully. What matters is the hate that it turned in to. There was name calling, bullying, and disrespect that lingered in my mind as I tried to process what the actual hell had taken place. The bottom line: we have become a country that no longer values difference, one that pins us against them, one that will write off family over differing viewpoints. Sitting in that realization caused me more pain than I can explain in written word.
We speak often of how we want to raise a generation who prides itself on inclusion but how can we do that when we live in a world that is far from inclusive? How did we become so passionately rooted in our beliefs that we are willing to disassociate ourselves from someone who doesn't hold the same beliefs or values as we do? When did we grow so cold, so unforgiving, so judgmental? People are growing farther apart by the day and it is devastating. We live in a masked world where facial expressions are not visible, human interaction is plummeting, and compassion is a rare find.
Suicide, opioid use, depression, and anxiety issues are all on the rise and I firmly believe that the climate we are living in is partially to blame. As a result of these issues, divorce, domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect are climbing and the foster system is taxed as more kids are entering and fewer families are taking kids in. We are losing human lives, not just to Covid, but also because of the world we are creating, and no vaccine will fix that. People are living disconnected, deeply sad, and feeling isolated and it is pushing them to do unspeakable things. We need to address this and we need to talk about THESE deaths, too.
Over the last year the divide has grown like a tumor, being fed by copious amounts of hate and fear. We are heading down the path of creating a very dark, dangerous utopia where we only feel comfortable or safe associating with people who are exactly like us in most areas of life: color, religious background, income, political stance, mask preference. Before you know it, it will get narrowed even more to what kind of car they drive, how they wear their hair, what color shirt they most commonly wear; ridiculous but you see my point. When does it become too far? Where do we draw the line? Do we know how or when to draw the line? When did we become a nation incapable of agreeing to disagree?
If we don't get this divide under control, if we don't start to embody what we preach about celebrating differences, this hate predator will grow so big, so uncontrollable, I fear it won't be reversible. The indecency and judgement is lurking on both sides of every debate and while not everyone is part of the problem, everyone can be part of the solution. We need to remind others and ourselves that not everyone sees things the same way. We need to remember that diversity and difference is one of the things that makes this such a great place to live. This land is your land, this land is my land. We need to go back to a time of celebrating diversity, a time of decency, a time of extending grace and compassion. We need to enter every encounter with kindness, with acceptance, with grace. We need to live as our faith has taught us, as God has shown us. That starts with me, and it starts with you, too.