We Are All On The Same Side
Let’s start acting like it.
You’ve probably done this — seen a ‘video with a message’ posted on social media and shared it with a comment, your own take on the message behind the video, or perhaps your opinion about the video itself, right?
Recently there was a video circulating online that depicted several small groups of random parents converging in a park, children in-tow, each group clearly a ‘tribe,’ — the yoga-mommies, the stay-at-home-dads, the cell-phone-wielding office moms, the nursing moms. The parents began arguing — or sometimes just bragging — about a plethora of ‘parenting things’ — breastfeeding, pool-birthing, helicopter-parenting, stay-at-home parenting, cloth diapers, daycare — with each parent and his or her tribe clearly certain that their style of parenting was the only way to safely bring up a healthy, happy, well-adjusted child.
As the arguing escalated and the name-calling got louder, the parents became distracted by their potential altercation and a stroller containing one mother’s sleeping baby got loose and started careening down a hill, headed toward certain peril in a nearby lake. Every single parent in the fray instantly stopped fighting and began to run together frantically, as a team, after the stroller, saving the baby from a watery demise. The unharmed baby cooed. The parents drew a collective sigh of relief, and began to see each other in a more unified way. Hand-shaking and hugs ensued, and all was well. Peace erupted. And I super-love that, as you know.
I shared the video, with this message above my post: “We’re all on the same side. The human side.”
The responses I received were, for the most part, supportive and in general agreement that we are humans first — all interested in caring for humanity. But a couple were a bit surprising, in a knee-jerkingly political sort of way. There soon appeared a comment which I will only paraphrase that suggested that there are two sides: “our” side and the “other” side — the evil side.
Wait — what? Did you even watch the video, my friend?
This video represents just a small, random-topic, metaphorical example of what I mean by, “we’re all on the same side.” And yes, I was directing it at (in addition to myself, as a reminder) people just like the one who wrote that comment. It reminded me of how Dear Abby used to say that no one would recognize themselves in the letters she published — especially the person about whom they were actually written!
Nevertheless, this comment made me curious about my own thinking. Am I not recognizing ‘the other side?’ My instinctive answer is that I am not so naive as to think terrorists will be moved by this “chasing a stroller down the hill” analogy. What I am addressing in this post is the squabbling that goes on within our society on a daily basis.
Let’s just start there, okay?
Look, I know there are evil forces in the world, I’m not unaware of evil on this planet. But in the space I am addressing, evil is in the drunk driver who injures or kills others, in the person who would hurt a child or an animal, the person who abuses his or her partner, the person who would take another life over a possession.
What I am saying is that it isn’t in the mother who parents differently than you do. It isn’t in the co-worker who feeds her child mac and cheese. The evil isn’t in the guy at the bar who thinks YOU shouldn’t have the right to own a gun. It isn’t in your cousin, who thinks every person on welfare is a lazy freeloader. And the evil isn’t in the sick person with a debilitating illness you can’t see who needs that handicap sticker for parking. It isn’t in your Facebook friend who thinks you’re nuts for voting for Obama. Or Trump. And believe it or not, it isn’t in either of these two Presidents, either. Heck, it isn’t even in the person who is already writing the nasty comments I’m certain I’ll receive for making that statement — I forgive you in advance.
Most people seem to think they are right. Do you realize that means you? Do you realize that means that your wife who won’t eat processed foods, or your college friend who lives on the “left Coast” and fights for legal marijuana, or the Dad ahead of you at the grocery store checkout counter using food stamps, or the stranger who is a ‘friend of a friend of a Facebook friend’ who holds a conceal carry permit, or your brother who thinks Nirvana is the greatest rock band of all time ALSO thinks they are right? (Well, that last one is just crazy, but still…) They don’t just ‘think’ they are right — they KNOW they are right.
Just like you do. Just like I do.
But that’s not where the evil is, anymore than it’s in you or me. In all those people you hate on and fight with and put down and ridicule and call “idiot” and blame for our society’s problems, is generally a person who wants the same thing you do:
To save the baby from rolling into the lake.
All the rest is just a power struggle, an ego trip. Nothing more.
Those noisy arguments are drowning out the truth — that we must learn to be on the same side, to act like we’re on the same side. We must all run after the baby, we must not let our arguing distract us from love. We must see what’s right with the world. We all want to live in a world with peace and love, and we must start with ourselves. Yes, we must protect ourselves and our families from actual evil and danger — but I see us so often hating on people who would not dream of hurting us or bringing evil to our families. I see us arguing and blaming and name-calling people who simply differ with us on ideas, who make choices for themselves that we might not make, and the noise is exactly what is keeping us from making progress as a species.
The thing that bothers me the most is the name-calling. A person who has a different opinion than you do about an issue is not automatically a ‘moron,’ and this type of rampant belittling is nothing short of bullying. It’s embarrassing, especially when directed in the media toward our leaders (and yes, they are guilty of this, too) — our country looks even more frayed because of it. And we’ve all seen how bullying is causing our teens to resort to suicide, causing women (and men) to stay in dangerous relationships, causing smart people with great ideas to do poorly in school, to not step up into leadership positions and to stay at low-paying jobs, eating away at self-esteem and breeding more bullying.
Before you go off on someone, either someone you love, or some random Facebook person who had the stones to speak — or post — a view different than yours (or on me for neglecting to mention your particular tribe or opinion here), stop and think about the fact that, from birth, we are all after the same things — life, love, joy, health, safety, prosperity, self-worth, dignity. We have different ideas about how to get there, but the ONLY way we’ll get there is if the noise of arguing and bragging and insisting and knowing dies down and people start to realize that listening and learning and looking at things from another perspective — seeing things from a point of love — will give us the answers we seek. We must see that religions other than our own are practiced by good people, people who love their families and want to better themselves, just as we do. Then, and only then, will we be able to join together and take down the REAL evil in the world — the kidnappers, rapists, murderers, terrorists.
Start with the person you see in the mirror, make sure that person is asking questions, open to other opinions, seeing with eyes that are searching for peace, love, light and growth in others and in the world around you, and in your own being.
I will spend the rest of my days working for this peace, and I deeply hope you will be on my side.
The human side.
This story first appeared on my wordpress site, here. If you enjoyed it, please give me a little ❤ and a follow. It’s Day Four of my 30-day story-a-day-athon. ❤