Thanks for the great responses to my last post’s question about ways we might be able to remedy what is ailing American society. More specifically, how do we allay the fears that seem to be deep-seated and truly destabilizing on every level of our culture.
There was a lot of consistency in your replies. Here are some of the highlights.
The family received a lot of focus in your responses. Parents who are (ideally) working together to be available to, engaged with, and focused on their kids was one of the top comments. The need for parents to truly LISTEN to children was a common response. Some readers went so far as to say that kids often feel ‘invisible.’
One reader suggested that our heavy reliance on technology might have something to do with this common feeling kids have of being unseen. Among peers, kids who don’t have the most magnificent ‘Snap Stories’ and Instagram posts feel immediately ‘less than’ those that do have ‘evidence’ on social media of a fabulous life. The fact that much of the ‘magnificence’ portrayed on social media is fabricated doesn’t accurately reflect reality.
Either way, kids remain lonely because their lives are too often lived virtually. They don’t hang out together, or even talk on the phone. “There are no voices, no faces, just keyboards.”
Kids often feel like their parents are too stressed out about their jobs to take time out to really notice what is going on with them. The fact that so many people are more devoted to their phones than their spouses and children sounds alarm bells that something is seriously wrong here.
Another common response had to do with the narcissistic focus on the self. It has become the norm, and its impact on society is devastating. It breeds a level of selfishness that makes sustaining any kind of relationship, whether it is between partners, friends, parents and children, or children and any adult (parents, teachers, coaches, etc.), nearly impossible.
“This selfishness creates a breeding ground for the dissolution of families, communities and the loss of hope,” one reader eloquently said.
Readers also suggested that the focus on our differences — which may be an offshoot of our narcissistic self-absorption — makes it difficult to find common ground. Without any way to meet in the middle, we find ourselves in a society of isolation, strangely alone in a crowd. Americans hold tight to polarizing ideals, constantly doing battle to hold tight to opposing positions. This mindset makes people who were once friends, enemies, and people who were once neighbors, adversaries.
You all had some great suggestions for how we can remedy these divisive, destabilizing issues.
First and foremost, readers said what is needed most is LOVE.
You said that we need to love one another… Treat each other with respect and behave with the dignity that makes saying, “Please.” “Thank you.” and “How can I help?” come naturally.
I was mulling all this over while watching some March Madness basketball. After one of the games we were watching, a documentary special came on about North Carolina State’s infamous coach, Jimmy Valvano. A couple of things really popped for me, in light of the discussion we are having on this blog.
The first had to do with how Coach V’s dad believed in his son 100 percent. He always told Jimmy, “I know you’re going to win the championship Jimmy! My bags are packed. I’m ready to come see your team win it all!” Every call, no matter how unlikely a championship win actually was, Rocco Valvano never failed to tell Jimmy he had complete faith in him. It inspired a belief in Jimmy that anything was possible.
The second thing about Coach Valvano was how he loved his players. Several were interviewed and they all said that they had no doubt that Coach V loved them like a father. For some, it was the only time they ever felt the love and faith of a parent in their lives.
Maybe what struck me was that Coach V was loved by his dad, and he paid that love forward to the players he coached with such devotion.
In addition to love, readers said believing in a power greater than themselves, and being part of a faith community, helps create a solid foundation for life.
Spiritual faith, and worshiping with others who share you beliefs, can set deep roots in a community that literally and figuratively feeds the soul and creates a bedrock of stability, interconnectedness, and joy.
Even if you don’t necessarily subscribe to every element espoused by a faith community, participating in it can help to cure the many ails of isolation.
I saw this, up close and personal, when one of my best friends started attending a church in Florida. He has never believed in Christianity, although he grew up attending Protestant churches. He was on an extended assignment in Florida for work, and was separated from his family, friends and community.
He started going to church because he just wanted to be connected to other people. It didn’t change his belief system, but being part of this church family gave him some work/life balance. Even more, he said he really liked being around people who shared a common desire to be the best version of themselves that they could be. This church community fostered that, and being part of that made his life on the road happier and more fulfilling.
I don’t know, for sure, how or why we are where we are in America.
I do believe that breaking the bubble of isolation, and coming together in love, fosters faith that the best is yet to come.
With love, light and prayers that peace and hope will crowd out fear and isolation and help to restore our souls,