I realize addressing you as one entity isn’t fair. You are not all the same. You are just like all of us; a sum of our highest and most deplorable selves. I’d wager most of you didn’t wake up one day thinking “I’d like a career in hopelessness as part of a seemingly-immovable machine, hell bent on money, votes and power at all possible cost.” No. I’d bet the vast majority of you hoped, and still hope, to do good.
Yet, here we are. Last week, there were not one, but two awful shootings again in our country (those that made national news). On the heels of terror in London. And Manchester. After a work-place shooting in Florida and the anniversary of the Pulse night club shootings. And after……and after.
When I, and the rest of the country, worried and afraid, turn on our TVs, open our electronic devices, tune our dials on our drives, we see your faces. Hear your voices. And drink your words. Yes. There are condolences. And support. And genuine worry. But within the same use of air often comes fast and furious posturing. Blaming each other. Blaming the other. Using terms like “left” and “right”, “liberals” and “conservatives” as though they’re poison on the tongue. Tossing tinder on an already tender flame. And while I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, there’s an internal, soul-gnawing that says it’s somewhat intentional. At best, perhaps you’re so caught up in the system, you don’t even realize the harm you cause. At worst, your purpose is calculated, seizing on horrific moments to further an agenda. Either way, ladies and gentlemen. Please stop. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a modern-day civil war, tearing our country apart. We’ve become depleted of empathy for our fellow humans, be it within our borders or beyond. We lead with fear instead of love; reaction instead of compassion, becoming so enraged we miss our own hypocrisy. Yes, a severed head effigy of the president is horrific. But so was a lynched proxy four years ago. We must be appalled at all of these things. Not just those affecting our own, limited world view and sensibilities.
Blood shed on a Virginia baseball field is not the fault of liberals, even if the shooter deemed himself one. Nor was the tragedy in a South Carolina church basement the work of conservatives, but that of a metastasized, hate-filled mind. However, as a collective, we all bear responsibility to our fellow men and women. Across this world, there are unfortunately many ill souls. And while words don’t cause actions, they sure as hell don’t help. Like it or not, you are among the standard bearers. You are the voices and faces leading our country, discourse, and often, even thoughts. What if you knew the next words you uttered could be a catalyst. Would you still say them?
I for one am tired of being told to hate my kindred. Tired of seeing Facebook threads showing me where the enemy lives instead of where I can find a friend. I’m tired of the violence. Tired of the fear. Tired of the debate and tired of the hate. Aren’t you?
This is not us. No. We the people are shielding boys from bullets in a dugout and girls from knives on a train. We’re holding doors and greeting each other with a smile. We’re sharing our time, our homes, and our hearts. Consoling and laughing together. Loving, teaching and protecting each other. Lifting one another in our times of need. Day in. Day out. We try and be better in the face of fear and anger. It’s hallowed, hard work. And we need your help.