As I read the headlines and browse my Facebook Home Page, I wonder, "Where Are You, Joy?" I wonder if you wonder the same thing.
We live in a time and place of great divide, which is causing great despair, both in our dialogue and for many, in daily life. America's democratic passing of the baton has deepened and widened the emotional and practical divide of American citizens, and increasingly, citizens of the world.
Regardless of who you believe threw the first punch, so to speak, regarding the spewing of divisive dialogue, all who continue to engage are guilty of prolonging the fight. In fact, much of what is said appears to be said to do exactly that - prolong and stoke the fight. We are fortunate that, over time, people have been willing to fight - intellectually and physically - for important change in our society. Think abolition, civil rights, women's rights, to name a few. It is important to remember, however, that individuals often come to see the need for change far earlier than organizations and institutions.
That individuals see more clearly than groups puts into the hands of individuals the ability to act first and more specifically to do the right thing. In fact, we all have the power to conduct ourselves in a manner that serves our personal interests in the context of serving the greater good. If we all act this way, we will not need to rely on governing entities to make our choices for us. I do not naively
suggest that a society should set no parameters for conduct; however, when individuals conduct themselves in a responsible manner that shows respect for not only themselves, but also the whole, the importance of rules of conduct is diminished. Rules are, after all, for the bad guys.
Unfortunately, we as Americans find ourselves disappointed in, disillusioned by and even fearful of our elected leaders. This is not something new, even if media and social media would have you believe it is. Perhaps it's another "alternative fact." The reality is that if individuals exercised their citizenship, something our former President asked of everyone during his farewell address, our nation would not have to rely so heavily on laws established by those we elect to control our life choices.
It is my hope that we as individuals will use our unique gifts to be our best selves, as individuals and as members of this great society. It takes time, energy, perseverance and compassion to ensure that our unique qualities will allow us to thrive as a community of individuals who are more alike than different. It is also my personal belief that words spoken and actions taken, born out of internal joy, will absolutely lead us toward this great end. Let us rely on that joy, rather than our elected people, who seem to have lost touch with what we truly want, to lead our great society forward. It is time to take things into our own hands - not just the writing and speaking of opinion, but rather the living of lives worthy of our words.
The Joy is there. Feel it and live it. Our families, friendships, communities, states, countries and world are depending on it.
author of "JOY"