I eat all organics, home school my children, wear TOMS shoes, participate in community activism…
I vote in every election, reserve the right to enjoy the second amendment, I go to church on Sundays and tithe, I listen to my elders; because of this I am better than you.
My team has won the Superbowl nine times, I am a volunteer firefighter, served my country in three wars, and I pay my taxes without complaint; because of this I am better than you.
With an Ivy League education, family ties to all that matter in politics and business, a home in three of the best climates imaginable, and with time to play golf on Wednesdays with the girls; I am better than you.
I own a Mac, I drink Coke, I live in a big city, I married my high school sweetheart, I am my own boss and the master of the universe and I participate at TED each year; I am better than you.
Because of the color of my skin, where I was born, where I work, and my sex…. I am better than you.
Don’t You See?!
No longer a biological necessity for survival from real dangers we have transformed a once useful impulse to quickly quantify the “other” into a culturally significant and debilitating system of segregation and demoralization. We have busied our brains with man made puzzles and problems that exist in fantasy. We have invented reasons to abhor our neighbors. We have also invented weapons to combat them.
When we are focused on who has more, who has what, who saw who with whom, then we distract ourselves from more pressing issues of hunger and safety & the difficult questions of religion and morality take a back seat to jingoism.
With a separatist attitude we forget there is great pain. Our humanity becomes an afterthought. We lose perspective.
If we are arguing about which party rules the roost and we isolate ourselves into camps then we forget that sometimes we don’t in fact know it all and that sometimes our best ideas come out of compromise. Further still it is those who think radically different than we do who sometimes have that stroke of stunning insight that becomes a useful advancement for all.
There are many who lack the courage of their convictions and even more who have none. It requires humility and vulnerability to listen to those who irk us, who differ from us, who downright make our skin crawl… and yet the first step of understanding is a willingness to engage. It requires careful attention and at times quiet reflection on what inflames our emotions to truly grasp what it is that is important to us and what it is about “others” that so enrages us.
Don’t be mistaken though, because the fact that I take the time to care about such things, I am better than you.
We fight, we cuss, we throw punches, we bully online, we read trashy magazines and our local infotainment papers to get in on all the latest gossip. We are nationalistic, racist, holier than thou, our churches preach fire and brimstone, and our movies sell irresponsibility and a full time party. We pretend to care about hot button issues and worse still we are often indifferent. We are animals who are easily spooked, often overwhelmed, manipulated by power, and exhausted by the smallest measure of accountability.
Yet in spite of the great darkness that exists on this planet and in our hearts we find cause to celebrate because part of that same heart continues to remember that negativity is only one of our many attributes.
So where is all the hope? Where is the love?
It is in our art, our music, and in many of our teachers. It is in our children, sometimes in history, and in many of the brave who stand up speak out and try and make a change. It happens in small places and in tiny towns of no national import. It is going on in kitchens across the country and in communities around the world. It happens every time we come to our mat and remember to breathe.
It takes self inquiry and discussion to foster understanding. Though I’d never argue that if we simply understood each other there would be no more war or fighting between the haves and have nots. I would in fact bet though that with a little more understanding we might just earn some perspective. Perhaps then we’d remember that we get a 90 year or so shot at this life and that there are more important things that we’d might rather be attending to.
I believe we are all just in search of someone who will bring us endless hope.
It is my hope that as we grow older we will refuse to be sold the lie that there is anyone who is beneath us… and that we will remember we are in many ways the same. Although, that would take a lot of energy come to think of it. Perhaps we’re better off just bombing the hell out of them because after all…we are better than everyone.