What are we missing? Suicide rates are booming. Rates in every age group between 15 and 84 has increased in the last decade and a half. We are all too familiar with the number of school shootings in the US these days. Bullying is happening day and night with little to no repercussion for the aggressors. Everything seems to be a struggle. Anxiety and depression are around every corner. What are we missing?
I have a thought. Is it the right one? I don’t know. Or the only one? Certainly not. But it’s a thought. Maybe a place to start a discussion. Maybe a place to start some change.
I encourage you to read this post after laying down your biases for a second. There are a lot of hackles raised in reaction to big subjects. It happens to all of us, certainly to me. I’d love, though, for you to consider what I’m saying without reacting with a, “But…” before I’ve even finished. Let’s look at what might be missing in our world, at the people around us, and brainstorm a bit…maybe create some solutions. *Together. (I’m starring this because I’ll be coming back to it later.)
So, with an open heart I’ll type and, hopefully, with an open heart you’ll read.
Social media reactions to the last school shooting combined with one of Madeline L’Engle’s books that I read a few months back and thinking about something my little sister told me once when I had a question about parenting and even my favorite resource lately, The Book of Joy….everything came together and the light shined down on the notion that we’re all part of something bigger. We are part of something bigger…but do we know it? Do we live it?
In L’Engle’s book, there was talk of wispy, fern-like things that live on mitochondria and if one doesn’t fulfill its role, the mitochondria gets sick. It several fail then the mitochondria might die. The mitochondria are part of a larger being – a person – and if one mitochondria dies then the person might get sick. If several die, then the person might die. People are part of a larger being – Earth – and if one of us gets sick, we might do damage to our host planet. Many humans doing damage or failing at their roles might kill our planet. There’s this whole fabulous interconnection throughout the entire book. She says it much more eloquently that I just did, but the idea is the same – we depend on each other. And if those little leafy things get selfish and choose not to take root on their host mitochondria, it could drastically change a lot of things.
One time when I was trying to figure out if I force one of our kids to attend the sporting event of another one of our kids, even when they really didn’t want to go my little sister summed it up like this: (paraphrasing…it’s been a while) “It’s not forcing, it’s just doing. Sometimes we do things we don’t love to support the people we do love…and because we’re part of a family.”
Dalai Lama speaks frequently in The Book of Joy about being part of the six million, meaning he is only part of the larger Buddhist community that he leads. He knows he’s their leader, but at the same time, he believes he’s part of the group, not above it.
Are you seeing the trend that stuck out to me? Being part of something – sports, drama club, FFA, a support group, weekly play dates, a co-op, Saturday night poker – helps us see the truth that exists for all of us…we are not alone. And that is a truth. However, if we feel alone, which can happen no matter how many people are around, that’s kind of a bad place to see ourselves.
That’s where the asterisk comes in. *Together. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s job to put their arm around every person who is at risk of doing something extreme. I’m not pre-victim blaming (which I didn’t even know was a thing, but apparently refers to the idea that if it’s up to us to be nice to everyone, and we’re not, and they hurt us then we become the victim of their actions and we previously blamed ourselves for their future actions…or something) or blaming in any fashion. I am, however, saying that sometimes sharing a smile can go a long way to include the people that showed up new to a club you’re already part of. Sometimes inviting someone to sit at your lunch table who somehow eats alone in the corner of a cafeteria with 200 kids in it can feel inclusive. Sometimes saying, “Hey, we’re going to have family movie night – and that means all of us,” can let a moody pre-teen or teenager (or both) know they’re still important and loved and part of your little corner of the world.
Together we’re probably not going to reach every person before they fail themselves, or us, or humanity. But together we can probably reach a few.
What do you think? Is it an idea? Is it a new angle to come at the problems from? Am I starting a discussion that’s worth continuing? Or am I alone in this?