8 people are dead in my hometown today. Another act of senseless violence, a hate crime against those attending synagogue. In the wake of this, there will be sadness, anger, disbelief and mourning. There will also be more fighting. More division. More digging trenches, drawing lines in the sand and blaming someone else. More - if only the other side would do "X" differently.
I'll admit, I've already sent my husband two texts this morning with the incredulous tone of "can you believe he said this?" But this attitude changes nothing. The tribalism is not stopping the bloodshed. We have to do something else.
One solution is to vote, but we can no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to save us. We can't keep flopping back and forth from one political party to the other, and undoing everything that the past party put into place. This doesn't move us forward, it keeps us stuck in the mud. Back to square one, again.
What's required here is a radical shift in perspective, from every single one of us. It's no longer ok to point fingers and say, "If only they would change." Because no one is changing, only hunkering further down into their own barracks.
And here's the thing most people don't realize. That evil "other side," - they are just as scared as you are. All of this fear, all of this False Evidence Appearing Real, is making people do crazy things that take lives and change humanity forever.
Jeff Flake said during the confirmation hearings that "there is no value in reaching across the table anymore." He may be right from a political perspective, but we are not politicians. I believe reaching across the table is the only thing that will save us. Angry rhetoric met with angry rhetoric just causes more fear and pushes unstable people towards the edge.
Are you embodying the kind of world you would like to live in, or just pointing your angry finger at someone else, waiting for them to change? Are you able to admit that you turn a blind eye to some of the things your political party says, that go against what you believe is in the best interest of humanity? Are you willing to question your own beliefs and your own party? Are you willing to call yourself on it and call your own side out, when they go too far and you know in your heart that it's hypocritical and against your very moral fiber? Or will you just keep making excuses, towing the party line? Are you willing to have a conversation, instead of just an angry shouting match, with someone who has a different belief than you? From the point of view of hearing each other, not trying to convert or defend?
Most of America, on both sides, is sitting in their homes, shaking their heads, and asking, "What happened to my country?" We can no longer wait for someone to fix this. The world is holding up a mirror to us to look at our own actions.
Here are some questions we can all ask ourselves on a daily basis. Am I speaking kindly, or are my words as venomous as the person I hate? Is what I'm doing causing more division? Is my hatred for the other side creating more of what I want, or less? What have I done today to reach out and stop the hate?
If we cannot look at our own actions, adjust, and reach out to the other side to make things better, than we are surely lost. Our children are watching, and imitating us. If we don't change our direction, the fear will be 10 times worse by the time they grow up. Are you embodying the kind of world you want them to live in?
It's time to stop pointing fingers, reach a hand across the table, and act. If we continue down this path of us vs them, no one wins. And the next generation is the biggest loser of all.