Our world is so beautiful! Yet humanity these days … not so much.
America’s forefathers brought this country into fruition by leading the charge, standing up for their beliefs, and working together to free themselves from British rule and create a better, more independent world.
They had vision. They felt the stranglehold of the British and had enough with the way things were. A few bold leaders decided it was time to rise up, take charge of their livelihoods, and forge the United States of America with the vision of a brighter future full of freedom for the common man.
But that’s where they got it wrong. They focused on the people they were surrounded by — men. White men. The one’s who looked like them, talked like them, and acted like them, who came together over shared morals, ideals, and problems, and sought out a better way. Through shared misery and vision, they created a country and its founding documents designed to solve their immediate needs of British oppression, and usher in a new era of freedom for those who fought with them.
What they did not take in to account, however, were the needs of all the other people who would come to be a part of the independent and free country they envisioned, even though the “other folks” were not prominently public, the way they are now in 2016. At the time, they didn’t think about the women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, nor anyone else on the planet beyond the straight white men they wrote their founding documents beside.
Yet now, two hundred and forty years later, we’re still operating on the same principles that were applied back then. The same institutions. Organizations. Governments. Problems. Perspectives. Beliefs. Laws that were created for a world that once was, two hundred and forty years ago, are still in existence today, and forcing the life out of good people. Kind people. People who deserve to be recognized as people. Equals. Sure, everyone has different backgrounds and we all see life through our own lenses and perspectives, but that’s the beauty of it. We’re all different, yet each on the same journey called life. We share this planet. We share our spaces. We live together and we die together, regardless of how we get along.
As my father continues to say to me to this day, we each put our pants on in the morning the same way as every other person: One leg at a time.
Yet somehow, so many people continue to deal with visceral levels of intolerance and cruelty. We’ve learned so much about how our planet works, and have advanced our existence almost beyond imagination from centuries ago, yet there’s still hatred and fear filling the air.
People have always oppressed other people. That’s an unfortunate truth of our planet. One group thinks they’re more worthy than the other group, and decides to take action. One leader spews nonsense and propaganda to get his followers in line, and amasses an army of vile warriors to stand beside and carry out his dirty work.
It’s terrible, yet that’s how it’s been. Until now.
The world now has changed.
We have visibility. Through video capabilities people are capturing moments of racism, hatred, and exertions of power. Internet connections have enabled those videos to be spread far and wide, and social media has accelerated the visibility for near instantaneous viewing and sharing. Our eyes are open, and we can communicate on a global scale in ways we’ve never been able to before.
We’ve created an intelligence layer on top of our physical being. What we as societies have been able to do with computers and the internet thus far is absolutely astounding! Who would have thought we’d live always-connected, semi-public, highly visible lives?
Yet, we as people haven’t evolved ourselves to be tolerant of the world around us, despite the massively overwhelming amount of visibility, transparency and connection we now have with foreign people and experiences. We haven’t yet grown to be okay with someone “weird” and different sharing our space. Seriously. I’ll admit that when I’m around someone who’s different from me, it takes me a moment to become comfortable with them before opening up and finding the joy of human connection. I think that’s human nature, so I’m OK with it, as I actively do my best to be open and accepting of everyone.
What I don’t do, however, is give people a hard time for being different. I don’t call them out, pretend I know them, or think I’m better than them. I’m not afraid of their differences, and I don’t berate them, abuse them, or hurl hateful speech their way.
Those are unacceptable actions, in every sense of the phrase.
What this country — and perhaps our world — needs is for everyone to learn to be more tolerant of the person next to them, even though they’re different. We need to learn how to accept our differences, appreciate everyone’s backgrounds and stories, and respect each person’s existence.
We need to love and be kind, and spread smiles while welcoming people in to our lives. We can’t go on this way. We no longer need to fear each other. Stories and myths can be dispelled, and urban legends are just that. We have eyes and ears in to other cultures, ways of life, and personal livelihoods, and have learned that just because someone is different does not mean they are a threat.
We are a global society now, with connected capabilities that allow us to communicate from one side of the world to the other, in a literal instant. Information has been freed, and anyone with a device and an internet connection has access to endless amounts of education systems, published research, opinion pieces, public documents, social connections, and more. We’ve collected the world’s knowledge and offered access to the entire world. Once again, truly incredible!
There are people from all walks of life living on this earth, breathing the same air and experiencing the world together, and that diversity of perspectives leads to more opportunities to develop in positive ways. No longer must we live in the dark and stay relegated to what’s happening in the local newspaper, rarely ever hearing about the town down the road, let alone towns that are thousands of miles across oceans and continents. We have such an incredible opportunity to come together as a global society — a global network of people working together, learning from each other, and making friends along the way — yet so many people are using our digital capabilities to spread fear and hatred when they could be spreading love and kindness.
We’re currently in a period of major transition, thanks to the advent of the internet and global connectivity. If we stay in fear and negativity, we will continue living in the dark ages. If we choose positivity and open ourselves up to connecting with and learning from the millions of global citizens, we will build the beautifully vibrant, inclusive, and thriving future we all imagine in our dreams.
From this point forward, humanity will be measured, studied and judged on one simple scale: how was life before the globally-connected-high-speed-internet, and how was life after it.
So, it’s up to you, dear reader.
It’s up to you to go out there and be a beautiful human being. Go spread love and smiles, and connect with the people around you. Take time to look at all the good in your life, and be thankful for all you have, and aware of what others don’t. Know you can always touch someone’s soul by recognizing them as a human, sharing a smile, and opening your heart.
This time in our existence as humans is truly crucial. We have more knowledge than ever, and you know what they say: “Knowledge is power.”
Let’s make sure that we’re using that power — and that of our connected networks— to spread love, build societies where people are treated positively and inclusively, and create the beautiful world we want to live in so badly. Let go of all the hatred being spread online and in the media, and all the biases and nonsense spewed by some loud-mouthed public-facing people in the world.
The change starts with you.
And me. And our friends. And the people you spend time with over the course of your day. We’re the ones who have the power to make the world a better place.
And I know you care, because you’ve made it this far.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I hope we’ll all start doing our thing to spread love and abolish hate.