America, You Need to Meet More Americans
These past seven days have followed a similar pattern that plays over and over. Outrage, anger, call for changes, finger pointing and then silence as something else grabs attention and pulls people away.
Ban this! Shut up snowflakes! Lock it all down! We demand change!
The technology we love has made it too easy to scream and thus harder to discuss.
When you are more inclined to only use your thumb to reflect your emotions, you can't use your brain and heart.
I have some very strong beliefs about guns, our kids, teachers, and schools. But, those are not what I want to talk about today.
Do you only have friends who share your exact view?
The problem is that too many of us stay isolated behind our screens. Even as we sit down to dinner or a catch up with our friends, we stare into the black mirror hoping for something more.
Humans like to surround themselves with their tribe. It is how we've found comfort and safety since we took our first steps.
The problem as I see it though is that too many have decided to go down the path of only caring about their tribe. If thoughts or people are different than that tribe than they must be wrong. We can't listen to others because they are not the same as us.
One of my recent lectures was on protectionism and how it affects business. Watch the masterpiece Black Panther and you'll see it debated on the big screen.
Protecting what you know and love makes sense. It is important.
But, what I keep seeing people forget is that America is one country full of different beliefs.
What I fear is that too many of us are not going beyond our front porches.
Instead of yelling from the extreme edges, wouldn't it be more productive to sit down and talk with those who have different opinions than you?
My life has exposed me to all sort of people. I've visited all but seven States and in each, I've had the pleasure of sitting down and getting to know people from all walks of life.
I often laugh and shake my head scrolling through my Facebook feed as I wonder what it would be like to connect some of my friends there who are polar opposites. Not connect them on Facebook, but over some steak and bourbon at my house.
To sit down and while the time ticked away actually talk about the things we scream about.
Not enough of us, know our own country. We assume to know everything we need to know and that is utter bullshit.
I watched last year as a friend in Texas helped the police patrol and rescue people after the hurricane hit Houston. He and his friends on their own dime brought a boat there and were saving people. They also all were strapped with "assault rifles" and were ready to use them if they needed.
How many of you were full of emotions at the beginning of that story and then turned to anger? That is the problem.
On the flipside, I was told at the end of an event I attended a few years ago, that my presence had worried a bunch of attendees because I was "a liberal writer from New England" and they assumed we wouldn't get along and that I'd be against everything they believed.
Unless we are talking about brownies, the edges suck without the middle.
So many issues in this great country of ours could start making progress towards meaningful change if more Americans got away from their screens and got out to meet people around them. Move beyond your fenced yard and get to know your neighbors. When you travel, say hi to the people around you and listen to the conversations around you at the local diner.
We need to understand that just because someone looks, acts or believe in different things it does not automatically make someone a bad person.
Being different is celebrated in so many ways and in others, it is ridiculed.
As you bitch and scream about the latest debate online, I encourage you to find someone with different beliefs than you and have an actual conversation. Preferably one that does not involve text, but voices and eye contact.
We are divided as a Country and nothing online is going to help bring us back together.
America, get out there and meet your fellow Americans. We've always been about a unique blend of beliefs and people. It is what makes us great.
Start today with one person. One conversation. If enough Americans got to know other Americans who are different than them, I believe we'd start moving in a better direction.