I was an unusual kid. For those who know me today, that’s probably a no-brainer. Not only was I a fat teen with poor social skills, but I was a nerd before it was “in” to be one. My favorite subjects were math and science, and although I didn’t possess a pocket protector, scotch tape held the bridge of my glasses together. Nice image, huh?
I also developed a very early interest in the news. As a teen in the late sixties, while others hung with friends, listened to music, or chatted on the phone; I settled on to the couch to watch Bill Bonds, anchor of KABC TV’s Eyewitness News at Eleven, staying up late to watch Dick Cavett.
Yeah, really; that was me. Par-tay!
Although I’ve lost weight, no longer have tape on my glasses, and would like to think I’ve established a social skill or two; I still possess a deep interest in the goings on of our world; some refer to me as a “news junkie.” I rise and go to sleep to the news. During the day, I listen to podcasts and get alerts on my iPhone (which also flash on my smart watch). Ask me about virtually any headline and I can probably speak to it. Obsessed? Maybe. However, the term “involved” is my preference.
So, you’ll understand when I say I relate to the social media meme of late that proclaims, “My desire to be well-informed is in direct contrast to my desire to stay sane.”
I want — no “need” is the word — to believe that everything will turn out for the best. Yet, the progression of getting from here to there seems to be a bit tortuous to say the least. As I write this, North Korea is lobbing missiles into the Sea of Japan; Syria is poisoning its people; millions of Americans’ health care hangs in the balance; the Senate Republicans are threatening to invoke the “nuclear option,” and all of this is on top of an all-consuming investigation into whether or not the administration was manipulated by Russia. Based on how much news took place in 1968, that year has been called a “rip in time”. Compared to that, so far 2017 has torn time’s fabric to shreds.
I won’t lie. The whole damn thing is wearing on me. No matter where you fall on the issues, I’m sure you feel it too. However, despite the meme referenced previously, the stakes are too high to tune out and shut down. We must be more, not less, involved.
The question then is, “What can I do?” After all, I’m a speck of dust in a galaxy.
Yes, we can speak out and raise our voices, making our will known; and we need to do that. But in the immediate, there is a fundamental, uncomplicated, effortless adjustment any of us can do that will instantaneously affect our local communities: Be more compassionate and kind. Simple. Easy. Taught to each of us since we were born. I cannot imagine how treating others with more respect can aggravate the tension. This is especially true when it’s someone with whom I disagree.
Some might say I’m being naïve or foolish, expecting that others will react in kind. To those, I reply, I choose to behave in this manner NOT because I expect the recipient to respond in the same fashion, but because acting in this manner reflects MY vision of how I wish to live. Call it leading by example. Said no less than the Dalai Lama, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
We may singularly be but one drop in an immeasurable ocean; yet if each of us pledges to treat the next person we see with respect, consideration, and compassion, no matter his or her political views, we become a movement.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a speaker and author. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com