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My son, half my age at 32, asked me if I can remember a time when things were “this bad.”

“No,” sadly I replied. “We seem to be at a new low.”

Later that week, speaking with an octogenarian friend, I posed to her the same question. Her reply was the same as mine. “No, we seem to be at a new low.” Should I ask someone celebrating 100 years on the planet, I fear the response would not change.

We might disagree as to the definition of “bad” — or even “things” — but I am convinced we’re all in agreement: Colloquially stated, “What a freakin’ mess!”

At the risk of harshing your mellow, let’s examine a couple specifics:

After observed the most divisive Supreme Court nomination process in history, one might argue we are also witness to the fabric of our nation being ripped asunder. Not only have we have drawn lines in the sand, we have fortified them with cement, and constructed walls to prevent passage from anyone of differing views. More than one political observer has postulated that our country’s temperament is akin to the mid-1800s (sic), prior to — and triggering — the Civil War. There are many who offer that “this great democratic experiment” is sunsetting; our future looking like George Orwell’s classic novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

Hang on, that’s not the worst news.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in what many consider a moderate perspective, implores “urgent and unprecedented changes” are needed now to prevent global warming from climbing over 1.5º Celsius (2.7º Fahrenheit) by 2030. Should we continue on the path on which we now find ourselves, expect an uptick of approximately 3º C (4.5º F) resulting in major cities flooded; island nations wiped off the face of the planet; extreme droughts and heat waves; insect infestations; and wars over water and food — um, just to name a few. Yes, the planet will carry on — but it will become close to inhospitable.

I could — as I’m sure could you — site countless more illustrations, yet once one has enumerated the end of humanity as a potential outcome, everything else seems, well, somewhat inconsequential.

Yes, things are indeed bad.

But, before either burying our collect heads in the ever-warming sand, or pointing fingers at “them,” (whomever you consider to be “them”), can we pull back from the brink for an teensy-weensy moment?

John F. Kennedy said, “Our problems are man-made; therefore, they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” (I considered replacing the male pronoun but wanted what he said to stand as written.)

Add into the mix that which Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately,” and I offer a vision for where I would like to see us all move, no matter our politics, spiritual beliefs (if any), geographic location, gender, heritage, or age.

You might call me naïve — and I might not deny it — however, despite what appears to the contrary, we absolutely, positively have to believe that over the long term, the Greatest Good must happen; the alternative is catastrophe on a scale never before beheld. We must envision a future championed via “Star Trek,” not “Mad Max.” To that end, it is essential that we keep our eyes focused on — and work towards — a culture where compassion and kindness are more valued than one in which might makes right; and a society where each and every person is valued and honored based on who he or she is, rather than how much money is in his or her bank account, how he looks, or whom she loves. We must envision Mother Earth where humanity is at peace with nature, intertwined in the natural order of the environment, not at odds with it. After all She gave us life, and she can take it away; to Her, it makes no more difference than when we flick an ant from the kitchen counter.

Most importantly, we must each climb down from our high horses, shake hands with “the opposition,” and recognize that our way is not the only way. Only through dialogue, respect and compromise, will be find our way through this. The alternative is unacceptable.

Scott “Q” Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds 24 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentation. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com,

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