WHAT UNITES US

 

I know I am not the only person who found it impossible to continue watching the Democratic Presidential debates. Many of us either turned it off or walked out of the room, for the same reason: There in front of us were seven adults, who we hoped would behave in a mature manner, but were instead acting like twelve-year-old kids having a food fight. Despite Pete Buttigieg, who just dropped out of the presidential race, talking about building bridges, the clash of candidates yelling at each other drowned him out. There is an inescapable fact about adults acting like children – they do adult damage. In this case, they continue to tear at the seams of an already bitterly divided nation. The fact of a torn-apart America has become a constant news story, with both sides screaming about partisan politics, and no one rising above the din with a calmer voice.

But there have been two recent events that may offer a glimpse into who we can be if we are willing to remember the frailties of our earthly existence.

On February 24th, twenty thousand people gathered at Staples Center for a memorial to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, as well as the other seven people who died on a white-fog morning when their helicopter crashed into a mountain. Millions more watched coverage of the memorial. We watched Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal weep over the loss of their friend, give voice to the chasm that his absence has left in their lives. We watched as Vanessa Bryant stood up bravely in her new reality as a young widow and shared with us the unspeakable grief of losing her husband and her daughter.

Grief unites us. No matter what the circumstances were in our own lives that brought us to our knees, we understand sorrow and loss. We know what it feels like when our hearts don’t know how to go on, and we know it has nothing to do with ideology, politics, class, race, or gender. It has to do with being human. Death doesn’t care who you’re voting for. It will come for all of us when it is our time, and if we’ve lived the way we’re meant to, there will be people left behind who will mourn our passing.

The other recent event that could bring us together, if we allow it to, is the Coronavirus. I realize that sounds strange given the divisive rhetoric and horrible accusations that are already attached to a looming pandemic. Donald Trump. Jr., who seems desperate to outdo his father in the practice of unbridled cruelties, stated that Democrats want millions of people to die because that would look bad for President Trump. Vice-president Pence defended that viewpoint. Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators have also joined the chorus and yelled about “weaponizing a pandemic.” But underneath all that noise is a hard truth – people are scared. We know that viruses are indiscriminate; they don’t attack on the basis of political views. They can attack anyone, even the people who are yelling and hurling accusations. We are all vulnerable, and if we really look clearly at that, we then have to admit that our vulnerability unites us on an achingly human level.

Sometimes the people who speak the loudest are the ones who speak quietly – Vanessa Bryant opening up her grief to us so that we could weep along with her. People whispering their fears about a previously unknown virus, and all the what-ifs that come into all our minds when we imagine it getting worse. It’s in those moments when we are stripped down to our essence as human beings, when we are reminded that we are all more alike than different, and that life is a fragile dance. We don’t need to yell about that, we just need to remember it.

 

 

3 Responses to WHAT UNITES US

  1. John Aaroe says:

    Just a thought. Unfortunately the inability of the current administration to attack the corona virus with Politics, rather than science, will prove childlike and irresponsible. Characteristics common these last three years. Sadly, I find myself reminded the leadership that children and teenagers have shown following frequent school shootings. The strength, courage and comfort this Nation once received from our leaders came from the survivors. A pathetic commentary. These senseless tragedies did reach a common thread within American’s.Walls were lowered. While concerned, I believe we will unite to help one another.

  2. Ken W. Brown says:

    You’ve knocked it out of the park!

  3. Willa Hendrickson says:

    “Love, time, and Death. These three abstractions connect every single being on earth. Everything that we covet, everything that we fear not having, everything that we ultimately end up buying. It’s because at the end of the day, we long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death.” Collateral Beauty
    ❤ Peace, Love, and Compassion.

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