I’m tired. I’m hesitant to publish that last sentence, because compared to most, I’ve got it pretty good. But, it’s true. I’m exhausted. I feel like I’m on empty. I can’t even keep track of all the emotionally charged events of the past… I don’t even know how long. Week? Month? Year??? It feels like a never-ending cycle of conflict, of tragedy, of hurt, and anger, and despair… I want to stop feeling it, but at the same time, I’m terrified about becoming numb to it.
Part of what is making this so difficult is the divisiveness in our culture, and my awkward position that feels like I’m standing with one foot on each side of the chasm. I have friends who can be classified as pretty strongly conservative, and others who are very liberal. It’s really kind of bizarre how I can express a thought or position on a topic, and get flamed by both sides for being aligned with the opposite perspective.
I wish I had an answer… I think I do, but most don’t want to hear it. I was re-reading an old blog post from about 18 months ago, that I wrote right after the Pulse shooting in Orlando, that I called “Seeing the People.” In it I described my observations from the area right around Pulse the day after the shooting. I was remembering this because of a quote making the rounds of my news feed today, where an NRA spokesperson said:
“Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. But I am saying that you love the ratings.”
The quote is much longer, but the speaker said it with clear intent to divide and inflame; she basically acknowledged as much in the extended statement. I try hard not to let every inflammatory statement in my news feed get to me, because I’d be in a continuous state of rage, but this one has stuck with me all day. Because, unlike the speaker, I spent the day after a mass shooting in the area immediately around the shooting, not as a center of attention personality, but as someone who came to help, and who tried to observe while I was there. And I saw the “legacy media” at work. I describe it in detail in the post linked above, but I can promise you, no one was loving it. My son left an incredibly successful journalism career in part because of his lack of love for mass shootings, which he was up-close-and-personal with way too many times. All that to say, “No ma’am, you’re wrong as hell about the media loving mass shootings, and you’re fomenting hate by saying that.”
The quote above was designed to demean a group of people the NRA has branded as an enemy. It’s not a new tactic; we’re all guilty of it. The head of the NRA has continued the practice today, branding those who don’t agree with him as “elites,” “socialist enemies” that we should be “anxious and afraid” of.
Bull. That’s my son you’re talking about. And my aunts. And my friends. They’re not evil, they’re not out to “eradicate all individual freedoms.” Stop making them the enemy! They’re our friends, and family, and neighbors, and co-workers.
Oh, I know, the left does it too. I’ve been attacked just as hatefully, as degradingly, by that side too.
I’m not just tired of it, I’m tired. I’m gonna step away from news and social media for a few days, and focus on being around actual people, and doing good, because that I can control, and I find that it energizes me. I’d encourage all of you to consider getting around actual people too. Be really crazy and spend some quality time with people who aren’t like you. With them. You know, that group that you are convinced are the source of all the evil in the world, or your life. Because you’ll find out that they are real people too. And maybe next time you want to dehumanize them, you’ll be reminded that you met one or two of them, and they really didn’t try to _______________.
There’s this whole crazy idea of “seeking first to understand, then to be understood” that I wish would take off in our culture. It’s life-changing.