Get Along

“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

I realize how long it has been since my last post. 

A lot has happened since then. I’ve lost dearly loved ones, changed jobs and watched the lines in my face deepen.

I’ve also watched with dismay what has happened to our great country. We went through one of the most divisive elections in our nation’s history and have collectively watched as our new president has seemed to stumble his way along. Some love him. Others hate him. But everyone has an opinion.

But much larger than that is the way in which Americans have treated each other. It seems like courtesy and respect have been replaced by name-calling and in some cases fisticuffs. And it makes me want to cry. I’ve had discussions with friends that have nearly devolved into shouting matches. I’ve watched protests and counter-protests end with injuries on both sides. Why?

The rise of “fake news” – which seems to be interpreted as any news item with which I disagree – is a big reason. Lies become truth when all you listen to are liars. And many of those lies are fueling mistrust of other people.

There is so much anger out there, so much distrust, so much hatred. And Americans are increasingly turning their anger on each other.

Anger is very easy, yes. Blaming someone for a “problem” is a lot easier than trying to fix the “problem.” It’s convenient, cheap and requires very little effort.

It’s also the way of the coward.

It’s easy to point a finger at someone else and blame them for your lot in life. Maybe they look different. Maybe they vote different. Maybe they believe different. And since they are different they are an easy target. Anger increases the release of dopamine, your body’s natural Dr. Feelgood. Putting someone in their place just makes you feel good. “I showed him didn’t I?” Lashing out also makes you feel in control. So many of us feel that our lives are not completely in our control anymore. Lashing out at one of “them” can make you feel like you’ve regained control.

But it’s like consuming too much alcohol. There is always a price. The good feeling disappears and the control is only temporary. And you’ve almost assuredly created a time bomb that could explode right back in your face. Anger begets anger.

And guess what? The problem has not been fixed.

Now more than any time in modern history our country needs courage. Courage involves stepping in front of two people shouting at each other. Courage involves stepping outside of yourself and into the shoes of another with an alternate point of view. Courage involves talking WITH your “enemy” rather than AT him.

So turn off the television. Disregard the angry web rants. Make it a point to talk to people with a different point of view. Seek them out and talk to them. You will likely find they are not really your “enemy.” In fact, you’ll probably find you have a lot in common with them.

Once you realize how much you have in common you can ease a lot of the anger and really start working on fixing problems. That’s what TRULY can make America great again.

Courage is easier than you think.