I have many, many shortcoming and failures in my life of which I am keenly aware and generally not proud of. Let's just get that out of the way.
Perhaps I am much less likable than I imagine.
There's a good chance that I have fewer shining talents than I fantasize about.
Maybe I'm not nearly as kind or quite as non-judgemental as I want to be.
I would like to think I have a certain level of self awareness, but the last few weeks have made me question all of this.
But even the worst human beings are still human beings, and several national and a few local - even personal - issues lately have brought my humanness and that of all of the people around me into startling clarity lately.
More than just your run-of-the-mill, single girl, circling the drain of her 30s self pity, I've had a few legitimate kicks in the gut lately that might have been uncalled for, unjust, or just plain mean, but they've made me examine myself and how I treat other people. All the other people. Not just the ones I like.
I know certain things about myself. I know I'm not lazy. I know I love my family. I know I try to live a good, ethical life. I know I fail more often than I'd like.
And I know this can be said for many people that I might easily judge for their different lifestyles and beliefs.
Along with an entire nation, I witnessed the murder of five law enforcement officers who did not deserve to die. Officers who were protecting people that they probably disagreed with philosophically. It would be easy to blame ignorance and lack of education for the violence. But sanity does not require a diploma.
So far 84 people have died at the hands of a ruthless killer in Nice, France. People celebrating Bastille Day - their independence. Murdered with a truck. Proof positive that people don't have a gun problem, they have a heart problem. In Nice. A place that, for name alone, should be exempt of such horrors.
I read about the horrific slaughter of people of many religions for radical ideals across the world. It would be easy to generalize about debauched cultures and rampant evil... Which is out there. The same generalizations could be made about Christianity for centuries.
Everybody has a solution: take away guns. Buy more guns. Ban certain religions. Enforce stricter laws. And everybody's solutions share common traits: they are mutually exclusive, black and white, and require global adherence.
Cruelty comes so naturally to human beings. Kindness is such an exercise for us. We're so busy needing to be RIGHT that we forget to be GOOD to other people. We've declined so far that we have to actually specify out loud which lives matter. We lash out in self-preservation. In offense for countless wrong against us and our ideals or perhaps just our lifestyles. And what does our lashing out gain us?
It gains us a world fraught with senseless violence. It gains us ridiculous public figures. Our celebrities are criminals and criminals are our celebrities. It seems to be the only way to keep our radical individuality entertained: Like the Gladiator in the arena, mass murderers of every variety, from terrorists to pharmaceutical giants and our political candidates stand with the blood of innocents dripping from their hands screaming "are you not entertained?"
And we feign shock and horror and abomination and change the channel and share the post and create a hashtag and add our two cents to the debacle that is humanity.
We have created this world. By our protest, by our silence. By our petty insecurities and our late thirty-something pity parties. I have not been the change I want to see in this world, I have been another creaking cog in the machine of destruction. I have been too intent upon being right.
Humankind will never agree on one religion or political platform or for that matter, whether Sting made good music. The power of humanity is in the differences we hold. The strengths and weaknesses. The balance we can bring one another. The power of humanKIND is in the end of the word. The kindness. Love is Kind.
Whether you are bible thumper, a Muslim, a pagan or a hedonist like me, as a human being you have to know in your heart of hearts that we're all on this tiny spinning rock together, bleeding red and beating hearts across continents and cultures.
So here is what I am learning: know your own conscience and act accordingly. Do not be swayed by bitterness or frustration over those that are so different than you, because really they're not. Vote your conscience in the upcoming election. Not for the lesser of evils. Choose kindness with your friends and neighbors regardless of the color or creed they belong to. We are all the same race: the human race.
Trust your selected gods to intervene in the affairs of men. Govern your own heart. Your own actions. Your own words. See the lack of self government in this world and thank your selected gods for the instruments of external government in lieu of men who will choose kindness. Respect the law whether you agree with it or not - your action or inaction put those laws and the ones who made them into power. Support the ones who hold the thin blue line between us and the unkindness that runs rampant. Support the Warriors here and abroad who defend our right to disagree and still live peacefully together. Back the forces that guard us from the lawless and deliver justice swiftly on our behalf.
Be the change. Be the love. Be the hope for a kinder world.