Sidewalk Ghosts / Interview 478: “We Got Wiser”

“I trust people. You can take some wrong turns, but I do trust humanity” —Kerry

IMG_2109“Is there anything that can’t be discussed?” Stranger now friend Kerry questions as he bridges to his council. “Does everything have to be something that can be done right now, today, or not?”

“Is there anything that can’t be discussed?” a thought that opens flood gates of analysis while striking at the very foundation of so many an opinions or teaching: An idea that challenges not only our individual heritage, traditions and cultures, but more provocatively, requests that we drop the very fears that we lean on for self-protection.

In so many ways we are bi-products of circumstances and the ever confusing categories that we and other place on ourselves. Those vast and complex variables that link our human nature to how we grow into the habits, lifestyles and points of view that make us remarkably unique. Each and every day we are exposed as we try to find our individual paths.

For some, life lessons are catalysts in moving forward to green and fertile pastures. Yet, for others they can become weighty anchors of sorrow, regret or perhaps worse. A thesis I’ve studied for some time now, and to be completely honest, I’m lost for a sustainable answer.

Life is truly a fragile and unpredictable condition. As glorious as it can feel, it also carries the darker possibilities of great pain and aloneness. To guard us from the latter we strive to find protective ways to cope, methods of finding balance and relationships where we feel part of something that fills our well. All the foundational stuff that makes us who we are, and all the stuff that provides us hope and courage to carry on in whatever we must.

Family values, churches, schools, politics, media and peers influence our soulful selves–sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Often we dream towards a similar world; while at other times we tremble to the fact that we are a diverse and divided planet. So we build our walls. Shield ourselves. Close our minds via holding onto that which is comfortable.

But what if we did the opposite? What if we opened our doors to see the people around us for who they are? What if we loosened our emotional armor to at least consider point-of-view different from our own? What if we flexed our belief systems in not subjugating our values onto others? A far cry from what so many a modern educational system, or belief, or lifestyle is proposing in this so-called time of acceptance and tolerance. For in today’s world, the concept of open mind is often and loosely called out, but the challenge I ask us all is a basis for great consideration. Being this, can we gracefully accept loosing a battle or two; and, if we win a debate, can we not be puffed up in the spoils of victory?

IMG_2112Kerry says, “I find that today a lot of people I meet don’t engage different ideas. They are not tolerant of different ideas. Even if they don’t believe it, or even if they don’t own it, they’ve lost the tolerance to even engage in it.

“Even in education we should be allowed to talk about different things to our young people, and not worry about this is right, this is wrong, this is proper. Just bring up the different subjects, hear our different thoughts. They are all out there. We are going to run into them in our lives. They are out there!

“It is up to us to choose what we want to accept and what we want to decline. But, we should a least be able to listen to it all and then decide.”

I like to call it “The Great What If.” What if we the parents, the religions, the teachers and the visible found a common ground? I know an impossible request, but hear me out as I put it in more realistic terms. First, I dismiss the dream of world peace. It is an impossibility that I am wholly aware of. There is far too much unrest and greed for that to happen; and the notion of a single and unified world religion, well, it’s never going to happen. Let’s not even get started on the scary side of things like the notion of one race. Get real. Yes, I’m the optimist of optimists, but we have to look at thing rationally.

But here is the cool thing. There are a lot of us who do get it. The you’s and the we’s of 365. I call us 365’rs. A silent majority who combined can sing as one voice of resolve, strength and wisdom; a people who are willing to as Kerry states, “engage,” and similar to training for an athletic event, a people willing to commit to a slow gradual progression. A community of great diversity united to listen and act within our own circles of influence. A society that embraces open discussion and does what it can to build and not take down. A people who are willing to accept we do not all subscribe to the same value systems, and that is OK, as long as it does not forcibly take away the free choice of another.

Kerry puts it this way, “That’s just looking at it locally, and that’s it. Sometimes with the media we so quickly start to think globally that we forget that we can do most of the work right here in our own communities.”

We chat on, exploring ideas of what could be the ultimate return from these individual efforts, and of their combined effect on a global scale. We summarize a concept of slow gradual progression and speak of a day when we will find ourselves together, at the right place, at the right time and for the right reasons. The web has allowed us this power to unite, and if we use it responsibly in awakening our knowledge of each other, then perhaps we will one day have that bandwidth to let our voices motivate the many.

“Does everything have to be something that can be done right now? Kerry inquires. A question I am sure is scalable to fit a variety of situations. Yet in applying it to what we can do as individuals a quest is before us. That we will trust each other enough to open our eyes, to sharpens our ears, calm our minds and share our wisdom. That as we do, we may listen, look and feel. That in the end we will stare into the mirror of our existence and be comfortable enough to acknowledge, “We Got Wiser.”

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