I am sitting and writing this in the same coffee shop this morning where I walked in and heard the tragic news of Aurora one week ago.
What is different?
Unless you live near the Aurora community or have a personal connection to the shooting – what has changed?
I am not asking this question to be jaded or cynical, but it is the question I am asking myself just 7 days after another horrific event that has become all to common place here in America.
Flipping around the TV a few nights ago I stumbled upon Michael Moore being interviewed on the Piers Morgan show. Many of Moore’s comments created a firestorm around the country, and I won’t necessarily get into what I do and don’t agree with.
As a former Flint native myself I have enjoyed and appreciated a lot of the work from Moore over the years, most notably Bowling for Columbine. It has been 10 years since the release of Bowling for Columbine, and much of Moore’s conversation revolved around what has changed in our country since the film.
Sadly, not much. In fact, if anything, random violent crime in the US is worse.
So I sit here this morning asking myself “What has changed with me?”
What am I doing differently in my life to help cultivate a culture where this kind of event no longer feels familiar?
For me, it really is about the culture. What seeds are sown in our soil that is different than other countries? What am I knowingly or not knowingly contributing to the overall fabric of my community that is either positively or negatively impacting the culture?
To focus on what others are doing feels helpless and hopeless. It is paralyzing. It creates apathy. To externalize the problem outside of myself allows me to feel it is “out there” with “those kinds of people.”
I am the problem.
Why? Because I continue to separate myself from “those people.” You know, the people different than me. The people that think differently…that don’t agree 100% with my ideas and opinions. Those people!
Separate, separate, separate! You vs. Me. Us vs. Them. Pro-gun vs. Gun Laws. Conservative vs. Liberal. Intelligent vs. Stupid. Separate. Separate. Separate.
The more we separate – the more we feel separate! The less I feel connected to you, the further away I want to get from you and your ideas. I look for people who think and act the way I do, and then we spend our time criticizing you for thinking and acting the way you do. Man, those fools!
Sometimes I separate myself so much that I actually find myself alone. No one gets me. No one understands me. You all are idiots – and I am the only one who really knows! This can be a real lonely feeling.
The more I separate myself the less real you feel to me. You are no longer my brother, you’re not even human. You are the enemy. You are the problem. Things would be so much easier without you and your idiotic views getting in the way of my happiness and progress.
Besides, I am ME…so I must be right! Right?
I can connect with this train of thinking, and I consider myself a pretty compassionate person. What would it feel like if I were in a more desperate and unhealthy state of mind? What would it feel like if I felt truly alone, disconnected, written off, ignored, mocked, hated…
So, to answer my own question, what is different for me today is that I no longer want to perpetuate a culture of separation. Agree or disagree – you are me. I am you. You are my brother. Even if you drive me crazy, I value you and your differences. I understand that my way is not the highway. My word is not law. My ideas are not gold!
More than anything – I don’t want you to feel separate from me – and I never want you to feel alone.
That is what is different for me today.
So, before you become engulfed in the Olympics, or move on to the next “Breaking News” that grabs our attention…
What is different for you today?