This morning I checked Facebook and saw a friend had checked in that he was “okay” in Las Vegas.
What’s this all about? Was he joking, or did something happen?
As we all know, now, he wasn’t joking. A horrific event happened, changing the lives of tens of thousands of people (the domino effect means that when something like this happens, with dozens of murders and hundreds of injuries, many families and communities are changed forever, which touch many tens of thousands of people).
Last May I was on a month-long trip with two of my kids and a friend in Europe… it seems like right before or after we were somewhere, something horrific happened. Knife attacks, bombs (Manchester, and in recent years, Paris and Belgium), vehicle attacks (the bridges in London)… we had just avoided them, although the presence of heavily armed military and police throughout Europe was hard to miss, and heavy reminder of perilous times.
Just this weekend the Catalonia region of Spain, where we were for a week, had horrific protests and police action resulting in deaths and supposedly over 800 people injured. (correction: someone from Spain emailed me to say that this number is highly inflated, and their mainstream media is exaggerating things)
Recently we’ve had devastating fires in Montana and Oregon, horrible earthquakes in Mexico (where I have friends), even just a few hours north of where I am, where I went to school and lived for nine years, they have had over 200 small earthquakes a few weeks ago (leading many to wonder, here in Salt Lake, if The Great Shake is coming soon). Boko Haram is still a complete mess in Nigeria, the country of friends of mine, where many, many people’s lives are being ruined.
Mainstream media has been consumed with the Trump vs. The NFL debacle, in which a bunch of players are exercising their freedom of speech to express their views on something, something we used to call civil disobedience, but I fear hardly anyone knows what the real or root issues are. It’s become to sensationalized and too politicized, all the while the U.S. President spends time tweeting on the NFL thing while being accused of not sending enough aid to Puerto Rico, who is supposedly going to be without power for months, and the Jones Act is preventing non-U.S. help from really getting in, and getting to the people who need it. The last president was a great public orator, this current president seems to be a third grade whiny victim/bully… but if you look at the policy and leadership coming from the office, it seems like horrid and long-lasting things are creating rifts and unwinnable situations for the U.S. and the world.
I recently went to a huge conference where the main keynote speaker derided Corporate America for having too many white males leading companies, sitting on boards, and being in key positions. While males have become the villain in today’s rhetoric, all the while I know plenty of white guys who work very hard to eke out a living. They are good people trying to do good by their family but at every step they are criticized for being privileged, as if any of their hard work is completely irrelevant and anything they can enjoy in life is almost like blood money that they don’t deserve.
By the way, I’m half white, half Mexican. I don’t know if that means I am half entitled to say what I just said, or half privileged (so that’s why I could say it), but as I drove home after that keynote I thought about my teenage son who is very white-looking, with beautiful blonde hair and light-colored eyes… he’s 1/4 Mexican but for those that cry “white privilege” he’ll never be given a chance. I wondered if my son will be vilified along the rest of the white privileged males, regardless of their drive, ambition, work, integrity, and dreams.
The level of intolerance I see, whether it has to do with lifestyle, gender, religion, etc. is disgusting and sickening.
Right now is a time of chaos. Whether it is the next natural disaster (aka, an act of God), devastation brought on by mental illness or hate, or the politics and horrid media bias, there is much to worry about.
I don’t talk about this stuff with my kids because they don’t need to know it. I can’t bring myself to talk to them about the amount of hate and dispair in a world where they need to see optimism and hope.
So what do you do?
You keep trying to do the right thing.
For some people that means they will be warriors… either physically or spiritually or mentally or socially.
Some people will need to save and serve, while others will need to find just enough courage to save themselves (and make themselves healthy and whole, so they are in a position to not need as much, and someday serve others).
If you look at history you’ll see similar patterns and times of chaos. Can you imagine being in China in the few years that over 50 million people were essentially murdered? FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE, because of one very evil person. Or the many millions of people who were murdered by other political mass murderers… What about being around when the Black Plague devastated almost 1/3 of the entire European population?
We can read about many horrors in the history of the world, but we can also read about people we respect as heroes. Not the fake heroes of today’s popular movies, rather heroes of epic proportions, such as Joan of Arc and Stanislav Petrov.
We are probably not going to be the Joan or Stanislav of our time… but we can be heroes nonetheless.
In today’s world we need heroes of epic proportions, because there is enough devisiveness, selfishness, and hate. We need heroes who will love and serve and give and build. We need heroes who will help heal and overcome. We need heroes with compassion and strength, and personal integrity and fortitude (defined as “courage in pain or adversity”).
We don’t need to save the world, single-handedly stop the fires, rush somewhere to destroy evil. But we do need to do that first in and for ourselves, building our own character and resolve, and then love and serve where we can.
After 9/11, New Yorkers and Americans (and others) said NO to terrorism. They said NO, this won’t stop us for living and loving, from working and serving. We went on doing our day, instead of hiding in fear. We must do our day, lest the terrorists win.
Today, we must not live, or hide, in fear. We must do our day, but we must do it better. When you post something on facebook, is it about love and life, or is it about hate and divisiveness? Are your communications and actions full of integrity, or is there a bit of selfishness?
I challenge you, I even beg you, to build your own character a little more. If we want the world to be better, safer, and more hopeful, we must act where we can have an influence, and that is first, on ourselves. Let’s awaken the hero inside ourself… heaven knows the world could use more heroes today.