I type this on the eve of my 44th birthday. Actually, I’m using a voice recognition program because I’m starting to develop some problems with my fingers after typing too much for 20 some years. I served in the military and later worked for the postal service and then more still, I worked in corporate America, and if that wasn’t enough I worked for myself and wrote for the last 10 years.
My words may not be as eloquent as they could be if they flowed from my fingertips. But I came across an important epiphany this evening.
It is time for America to start winning back the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. I say this as a man who has been separated for over a year and will be filing papers to complete a divorce next month.
Many people have witnessed what a very long relationship looks like when it starts to crumble and fall to pieces.
It oftentimes starts with trouble. It might be a health problem or a bankruptcy or the loss of a job or miscarriage or the loss of a loved one or severe career problems or two people simply growing in different directions. It might be all those things. It might be something completely different.
America has seen a lot of those things. Many of them have transpired in just the last 20 years.
After 9/11, we Americans rallied together and loved each other. We showed the world our strength and love and determination and resilience. The world loved us back.
Sometimes trouble as a way of catching up with you later after you think you’ve dealt with the worst of it. Sometimes a wound seems to heal, but it festers into something else.
Americans loved each other for a time after 9/11.
Scared of our own Shadows in the land of the brave
Fear started to creep into our behaviors. Initially, we were vigilant against an attack and there was nothing surprising about that. Who could blame us?
Then we started to jump at shadows and we chased villains, who were bad people but not the ones that had caused us the trouble.
We started to turn over every rock we could find looking for trouble. We looked far and wide, and we found trouble everywhere.
We started looking for trouble at home as well. We started listening to every single conversation that every citizen had everywhere.
We were literally scared of our own shadows.
Any marriage counselor will tell you that when trust is lost in relationships, it is very difficult to get it back.
Difficult is not impossible!
We Americans lost the trust that we had for each other. We elected people, leaders, to search out trouble at home and abroad. It was their job and they found trouble everywhere too.
When a relationship loses trust, every member that’s in the relationship feels that loss of trust.
They each literally lose that loving feeling.
As I write this, we are about 42 days away from the election. We are going to elect new leaders.
The country is deeply divided in their lack of trust of leaders. Americans do not trust each other to choose either.
This is serious trouble.
The only way to heal a relationship like this is to show and demonstrate and communicate love to each other.
The relationship is breaking maybe even broken. We are each going our separate ways. Unless we pull out all the stops and find some way to fall back in love again.
I’m getting divorced soon. It did not work for me personally. 🙂
Much to my chagrin, I have seen other couples do it. It is possible to rebuild trust and to fall back in love.
America, we need to fall back in love with each other. We need to do it for each other. We need to do it for the family. We need to do it for the kids. We need to do it because we were good for each other.
Do those (hollow) arguments sound familiar?
I’m certain you’ve heard a number of different excuses as to why people should stay together.
Anyone that has stayed in a bad relationship, will tell you that most of those reasons are probably not worth it.
Keeping a broken relationship going by force
Some of us Americans can be logical about it and practical about it and suck it up and keep things going a bit. Some of us will be codependent about it and react to all the crazy things that other people are doing. With enough good intentions to pave a road to hell, they will attempt to bring sanity to a situation that has none.
There will be many of us that will do all the wrong things at all the wrong times and it might seem close to impossible.
America is a democracy. That is about as close to a ‘group marriage’ as anything can get.
Marriages can be cold and calculating impractical and all sorts of things, but they work best when everybody is in love.
We can get along okay for a short amount of time if we all collectively hate someone.
This is the politics that we see everyday right now. Groups hating the other group. It divides and pulls people into opposing groups.
Yet, it is a type of glue.
It is not a very good type of glue. It is corrosive and it will not last.
Even in troubled marriages, couples can temporarily rally together in the face of adversity.
It can create an opportunity for people to remember why they fell in love.
If the members of the marriage don’t seize that opportunity, it will be lost and the marriage will still end.
All around our country, we have thousands of people that are dying at the hands of other Americans.
- Nothing says failed encounter like shooting someone.
- Nothing says failed opportunity like shooting someone.
- Nothing says failed communication like shooting someone.
- Nothing demonstrates the failure of intent, policy, hopes and dreams like people getting shot in your neighborhood.
- Nothing says failed relationship like shooting someone.
America has seen severe tragedies in the last 20 years. The people that have killed the most Americans though, they did not come from Afghanistan. They did not come from Iraq. They did not come from Mexico or any foreign country.
The people that killed the most Americans over the last 20 years were other Americans.
The numbers don’t even come close.
In any single year of the last 20 years, ten times more people died at the hands of Americans than during 9/11.
When anyone shoots someone they demonstrate hate and fear.
We Americans, we hate and fear each other more than anyone else in the world. It is a fact easily calculated by the numbers of bodies that we racked up.
We’ve killed more of our fellow Americans than were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
We have to stop killing each other.
This has nothing to do with race. We definitely do have big issues surrounding race, but no race holds a monopoly on killing Americans.
The numbers of American on American killings in the United States is ridiculous.
Things have gotten so bad that we try to stop people from killing other people by killing them. We are doing the thing that we are trying to stop others from doing.
We learned many things by going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, we learned that we can not kill people into liking us.
Some of the smartest soldiers of our time and even a few Generals finally realized that we needed to win the hearts and minds of the people that we were fighting.
We needed to do things to make them love us.
We originally and obviously did all the wrong things to make them love us.
We bombed them. Shot at them. Destroyed their cities and their ways of life. Then we threw cash and money at overlords and corporations left and right for the promise of love.
None of it worked.
The people that we fought with bullets and with cash do not love us.
While we were doing all of that, we were also escalating our fight against each other. We practically bankrupted our country and destroyed our trust of each other. We destroyed our privacy. We took away our freedoms. We amplified our fears.
We did all the things that are guaranteed to kill a relationship.
The people that we were fighting abroad could see that we did not even love ourselves more.
How could they love us when we did not love ourselves?
Let me be clear. I am not talking about loving our country. Our country is nothing without our people.
I am talking about loving the people in our country, all of them.
There have been times in our past when we loved each other more. There have been times in our past when we hated each other more.
Times have been better and gotten better when we loved each other. Times have gotten worse in America and abroad when Americans hated each other and fought.
As we go forward, we have to figure out how to fall in love again.
An idea we haven’t tried in a while…
This means that I need to work at loving you. And you need to work at loving me, and we both need to work at loving everyone else as well.
There is no one to blame for our relationship falling apart. We all made mistakes. We all contributed to problems in different ways.
Today is a new day. There is no day like the present to start loving everyone.
We have to show each other love and go out of our way to show each other love. We need to communicate it and demonstrate it and live it.
This evening I watched several videos analyzing whether or not a man was or was not holding a gun.
The man is dead.
Maybe he was holding a gun, and maybe he didn’t have a gun at all.
I’m not the only one. Thousands, maybe millions of other Americans were watching the same videos trying to figure out the same problem.
This is a total red herring.
We need to be figuring out whether people in this video were or were not showing each other love.
Hint!!! If someone is shot, not enough love is being shown.
How come we weren’t showing them love?
We have a long and ugly history of killing each other.
We are only going to close the chapter of this history when we can find a way to show each other that we love each other, every day.
We can only rebuild trust by finding people that are good at finding new and better ways to love each other.
This means we might have to go out of her way to be extra civil, extra nice. Words are not the only thing, and we will have to find many new ways to demonstrate our love as well.
There is an easy option as well. When a relationship is failing and a couple continues to cause each other harm, physical harm with weapons, weapons need to be removed and they need to be given some space.
We don’t have the ability to put a restraining order on every single American and keep them away from each other and prevent Americans from shooting 30,000 of their fellow Americans each year.
Similarly, we need some new rules in how to break up fights. We need some new rules of engagement to use a military term.
The current rules of engagement are not winning the hearts and minds of Americans. They are doing just the opposite.
This is a tough lesson that we learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is counterintuitive to stand (fearfully) watching a person advancing towards you, when you perceive them to be a threat, and then do nothing.
Our current rules of engagement, allow something to be done. It allows Americans to be shot.
In America, Americans are innocent until proven guilty, unless we are perceived to be a threat.
Think about that for a second, our entire rule of law gets thrown out the window based on the perception of the person holding a gun.
I am not judging the actions of anybody in the past. I’m not backseat quarterbacking or being critical of the actions of the past.
We can do better.
Millions of Americans learned in Iraq and Afghanistan better methods.
Those lessons have been brought home. They have not been integrated here yet.
If we are going to start to win the hearts and minds of Americans, we need to stop killing Americans.
It is a small first step. It is an essential step.
I guarantee that if we cut the number of deaths in this country and drop the numbers in half each month, …
we WILL be able to heal our wounds.
We will be able to recover from our collective post-traumatic shock.
We will be able to start showing more and more love for each other and all of our fellow Americans.
Yes we will have to do a lot more than that!
It will be a very good start.
When people are not dying every day, and are not fearful for their own survival, they will have a whole lot more energy to focus on being good and expressing, showing and demonstrating love.
Help Starts Here
We can each help now.
We do not have to pass a single law to get this started.
It’s a simple thing. To live in the home of the free, we need to ‘BE BRAVE!’
- Leave your weapons at home.
- Lock them up.
- Don’t carry them in your car.
- Don’t carry them on your person concealed.
- Don’t carry them on your person openly.
- Leave your weapons at home.
Americans have over 300 million guns. Every day our police force has to go out into a society that both out numbers them and out guns them.
This does not justify a single shooting.
It is little wonder though that anyone might feel scared at times, maybe persistently.
Are the current killings unbalanced or unfair? Yes.
We shouldn’t be arguing about whether killings are fair or balanced.
We should not pole vault over mouse turds.
We are Americans. We do big things. We should end the killings.
We need to end the shootings.
It is a simple step in winning our own hearts and minds back.
We have to do a lot of other things, but we have to stop killing each other first.
Hurricane Mathew Addendum
As I edit this, it is almost two weeks later. Hurricane Mathew is shredding the coast of Florida and heading towards Georgia and South Carolina.
This is a perfect opportunity for our country to show more love, extra love, today! Right now.
It is a Friday as well. We are approaching a weekend. There is no better time to practice showing extra love today, tomorrow, the next day and every additional day from now through the election, through the end of the year and beyond.
If we evolve into the land of the free by demonstrating to the world that we are brave and do this with love, the rest of the world will notice.
In the process of winning our own hearts and minds, we will win their hearts and minds too!