“Heartsick at the ‘right’ and the ‘left.’ Politics has become the thinnest of veneers over human brokenness. The vast majority of us don’t want to live this way. It is left to each of us, where we live, to start having the conversations we want to be hearing and grow this culture up.” — Krista Tippett, via Twitter, 9.28.18
Two weeks ago I almost killed my Twitter feed–I could not stand the level of cruelty, snark and dehumanization I was reading. Thank the baby Jesus for “Thoughts of a Dog” (@dog_feelings) or I might have given up on everything altogether.
Thankfully, I held on long enough to read what Ms. Tippett wrote, and I thought, “Yes. That. A million times over.”
I am heartsick. At the right and the left. And I do not want to live this way as a nation. We have allowed politics and leadership and government for and by the people become a power and money driven sham and I am sick to death of it.
“The thinnest of veneers over human brokenness….” Yep. And a crappy veneer at that. One you find on the discount shelf at a big box hardware store because they know it isn’t any good anyway. Y’all, we are so jacked. Our penchant for partisan politics, and allowing our elected officials to dictate what side we’re on and how that defines us and who we’re supposed to root for or against…it is nothing short of insanity and not at all what is best and good and true about this country–a country I am profoundly grateful to have been born in and that I love with my whole heart. We’ve drenched our own brokenness as people, as communities, in this shady veneer, sacrificing everything that’s best about us as a nation to the altar of Who is Right and Who is Wrong and Who can Win.
Meanwhile…public school systems flounder under the weight of massive expense and massive need and there is not nearly enough support for the men and women who Teach. Our. Children.
Meanwhile…women are assaulted at alarming rates, as they always have been. And we (as in left and right–neither is innocent in this game) use this as a deftly exacted political tool to take down whoever we’re against, meanwhile those same women are left to try to put back together their broken lives and shattered trust.
Meanwhile…an opioid epidemic continues to rage. Because that’s what happens when entire societies are in pain, anxious, stressed and overworked and too busy. We self-medicate. With whatever we can find, and the travesty of a healthcare system we have includes drug companies all too happy to profit off our despair.
Meanwhile…working families, many of them single-parent homes just trying to survive, struggle with all they’ve got to stay afloat financially, never-mind actually get ahead. This struggle–so real–knows no partisan lines. And it is terrifying for those who are one illness or job loss or life change away from financial crisis. When you aren’t sure how you are going to pay several thousand dollars in medical bills, or how you will send your kid to college, never mind pay for summer camps, sleep is hard to come by and blood pressure hard to regulate.
Do you see how ridiculous this is, friends? Do you see that we’ve let an entire and completely dysfunctional system sustain itself at our expense? Do you see how our children are being shown a government that fails to put them first? Do you see how our fighting and misinformation and social media manipulation and finger-pointing and blaming is quite literally destroying us?
I am heartsick. And still I believe, with everything I am, that there has to be a better way. And still I believe, with everything I am, its up to you and me to find that better way. To recover decency and respect. To be civil. To recognize the inherent equality of all men and women and children. To set aside our biases based on color or socioeconomic status or political party affiliation and freaking Have. A. Conversation. with each other.
Last Sunday evening, I listened to a woman who is Muslim share her faith with a group of Jewish and Christian folks. She is from Turkey, an educator, and has been in the United States for 12 years. She spoke of her love for this country, how free she feels to be herself here, how thankful she is that she and her family are here, even as they sometimes miss their homeland. She expressed her son’s confusion when he sometimes hears things about Muslims that are not true of their particular family or faith community, but at the same time made clear that the negative things have not defined her experience as an American.
Her words struck me to the core–because the United States she spoke of–that’s the United States I love. The one I hold dear. But more importantly? I believe that’s the United States most of us hold dear. Whatever political party we claim, I really believe that’s what we’re after. We don’t want to live in this bipartisan nightmare and warring ideologies anymore.
We cannot continue to let ourselves be defined by power or riches or party or might. We cannot continue to live like this. Show me a leader who focuses first on what it means to be in community, who focuses first on what it means to sacrifice for the greater good, who focuses first on kindness…and I’ll be that leader’s biggest fan. Better yet, maybe we just become those leaders when and where we are able.
Such leaders have come before us. Such leaders will rise again. I believe that, too. These dark, difficult days are not the last days. But as these days rage–we’ve got to do as Ms. Tippett suggests…start at home. Start in our neighborhoods. Start with each other. Talking. Listening. Holding hands if we need too.
Because it is long past time for us to right this ship and see each other safely home.