This year is not over yet (so I am sure there are probably a few surprises waiting for us), but I think we can all agree that it has been a lot. Especially following on the heels of a tumultuous 2020. It has been a lot of stress, arguing, loss, fear, frustration, fractured relationships, and so much more. I do not know about you, but for me it has been overwhelming more than a few times. Right now, especially, I feel it on all fronts – at work, at home, in the community.
I am an optimist by nature, so I want to look ahead and see that things will quickly return to normal. While I am confident that some of the challenges we have been facing will start to even out, it does seem like we are in a season of change and challenge that will not quickly dissipate. We are more polarized than ever with even seemingly innocuous issues becoming quickly inflamed.
When I look at the world, however, I see a very complex system where everything is not always able to be judged easily and quickly.
There are very few challenges we are facing that are ‘simply’ caused by one thing – though the media loves to tell us stories that make you think that.
Sometimes there are multiple ways to solve a problem, and the best solution might be a mix of several of those ideas, though our current political environment discourages that.
Sometimes people hold a belief system very different from yours, but you can still treat them with kindness, respect, and dignity.
I have had so many conversations with people over the last several months who are dismayed by the environment we find ourselves in – people from all along the political spectrum, with differing faith backgrounds, and other differences. Interestingly, they (we) are all certain it is the fault of the ‘other side’ – whatever that may be. And just a confession here – yeah, I have 100% done this too.
But lately I have begun to suspect that we’re the problem. People. Humans. All of us. We like to be able to look at the world through a simple lens and deflect the difficult – doesn’t it make it all easier that way? Well, it turns out it might make it easier for a while, but in the end there is still complexity that must be faced.
The good news is that we are also be part of the solution!
By remembering that we’re all human and we will all make mistakes from time to time.
By assuming positive intent with people and not immediately jumping to the worst assumptions. By challenging the narrative we are being given by the media (try reading sources from the other side of the fence that will challenge your assumptions).
By making and keeping friends who believe different than you do.
By being willing to hear people out for what they think (even if you don’t ultimately agree).
By looking at people as individuals, instead of ‘labels’.
The world was never perfect, no matter what our rose-colored glasses tell us. But our tomorrows can be better than today, I firmly believe that. There is no magic wand to make these things better. Labor shortages, supply chain issues, job insecurity, family difficulties, health challenges, housing crises, etc. We have serious problems to work on in the coming months and years. Let us emerge from our respective corners, start talking with each other, and finding innovative solutions to tackle the issues. The change starts with you and me – I’m ready.
Jodie A. Perry