I am almost 2/3 through The Being of a Nation road trip, and while it will take some time to go through all of the interviews at the end of the trip and do an overall analysis of them, so far there is one thing has clearly stood out for me: There are a lot of good people in this country, who want good for our country.
It dawned on me this past weekend that I have only been on the road for about 8.5 weeks, but with each city that I visit someone mentions a new tragedy to talk about – from Charlottesville to Harvey to DACA to Irma (to name but a few). It feels a little like you are getting a feel of what seems to be consuming the country on that particular day or week without ever needing to turn on the news or pick up a publication.
This is not to say that people forget the events of the past day or week, but are somewhat overtaken with what is thrown at them each day in the news…it consumes them because it is almost too overwhelming to think about all that has happened in just two months. So, you have to take each one – one at a time.
Yet, in acting as more of an observer through this project/experience, it has been fascinating to watch this happen. It has allowed me to see things through a different lens, and therefore, reflect on my own ways of processing where our country is at this current point in history. It has given me a new perspective then the one I had sitting in front of my computer or TV, very worried and concerned.
I have heard many people discuss the distress they are feeling about the state of America, because I ask every person I talk to where they think the BEing of our nation is based on the word or phrase they choose for how they want to be in the world. Yet, a vast majority tend to end on a positive note when they discuss what we need to do to make changes towards being a Nation of Beings. They talk about hope, and community, and coming together, and being positive.
The BE Positive ones stood out to me yesterday, because I had two different people independently choose this word for their response to how they want to be in the world. Each individual talked about the fact that they have faced significant struggles and troubles in their life, but they hit a point where they made the conscious choice to be POSITIVE in their own life. To flip the negative into a positive and ACTIVELY work toward living their life with that mindset. They were aware and making a CHOICE.
I see so many analogies to our current place as a nation. We ultimately do have the choice for how we choose to deal with all the tragedies that are happening to us and around us. We can continue to fight and work and move toward the positive results we want or we can instead sit in a place of negativity, doubt, and disbelief. In the same way that we would tell an individual to be positive to see positive, we need to do the same as a country.
Even though it seems hard, we need to have faith in our fellow citizens. We need to limit our news intake to 30-45 minutes a day and instead talk to our neighbors more. We need to ask questions and most importantly, we need to LISTEN to someone who is different then us – especially if you are in an sort of place of privilege. Talk to a stranger. If you are not sure how to start the conversation – feel free to use the simple question of, “How do you want to BE in the world?” See what they say. See where you feel a connection. Don’t talk while they are talking. Just offer them your ear and see how that is received. I have been given more hugs from strangers in 8.5 weeks then I have in my lifetime.
Stay positive, my friends.