AND We Are Stronger Together

October 1st, 2017

I have been watching what appears to be growing divisiveness in our country and the world. Last week’s news in the US focused on athletes taking a knee during the national anthem and related tweets on social media. While some people became angry on either side of that issue, there was another issue that divided us at the same time. And that was the question of why the news focused on this story when other prominent national and international stories, such as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, received less prominent coverage.

The BBC published a story about hackers from Russia who had been feeding both sides of the standing vs. kneeling during the anthem story with fake news on social media to feed the divisiveness. AND after I read the story I got to thinking about where and when I have seen the same patterns of divisiveness created by or stoked by third parties and what the results have been.

What if in cases of inequitable allocation of power and resources, those with the power play the game of doing whatever it takes to win by their definition…which amounts to increasing their own wealth and power at all cost? What we would see is what we see playing out between Putin and the US in the battle to be seen as, and actually be, the greater world power in terms of wealth and authority. Similarities can also be seen playing out between the leader of North Korea and of the US, as individuals. Their sparring accentuates differences between the countries and causes divisiveness on the world stage in terms of which countries support which leader.

And then there is the work environment. I have observed, over the years, in large companies controlled by individuals obsessed with power and wealth, the conscious pitting of rising leaders against each other, feeding them with stories that amount to fake news about them and their opponents. Leaders set up two people to compete, appear to favor one, draw out weaknesses, and play them so that the two become opponents rather than colleagues who talk with each other about the game being played. They forget that, at a higher level, they are on the same team and share a common goal.

We have learned in history books for years that united we stand and divided we fall. It is time to listen to and internalize those words. In marriage, families, partnerships, neighborhoods, communities, organizations, and politics relationships require commitment and work. They require that we see each other and look for opportunities to find common ground for the common good. They require that we discern what is true, rather than what is convenient and feeds our individual egos about who is “right” in any given situation.

In terms of quality of life, joy, and living into our individual and collective potential, we would do well to consider that grace is more powerful than being right, kindness and charity are more important than personal power, AND love heals.

It is time to look squarely at what we are focusing our energy on every day. What stories do we perpetuate and which ones do we let die because they do not serve a healthy society where all people matter and we are stronger together?

There is a hole in the rowboat. We are all in that boat together, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. It is useless to fight about who caused the leak so we have someone else to blame. The boat has a hole in it. We sink or swim together. Each of us is called to choose whether we will feed divisiveness or work together to patch the boat. Let’s do what we can individually and collectively to stop the divisiveness and find ways to see and support each other. We can do this. AND we can only do it together because we are stronger together.

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