Watching the news these past couple of weeks has been down right depressing. As if it’s not bad enough witnessing babies being torn from their parents and watching families being turned into prisoners for having the audacity to pursue the American dream, the reaction from partisans and the way we continue to turn human suffering into politics is a wound that cuts even deeper. This is what happens when ideologies supersede humanity, tribalism infects the soul and makes us focus on politics instead of demanding justice without respect to our trivial differences.
The only ones who benefit in this paradigm of situational outrage and hyper-partisan warfare are establishment voices who get paid to slice and dice humanity into cauldrons. The rest of us who rage against the immoralities of the world through the lens of sectionalism and let identity determine our reactions are only feeding into the fires that consume society. The same things we get up in arms over when it happens to “us” is met with indifference when it happens to someone else. It’s like watching a merry-go-round of emotions as wrath is traded in for compliance based on which party or clan is in power.
It would almost be funny if it was not so tragic, the same side that once defended the indefensible get up in arms when the political zeitgeist changes. All sides engage in a weird kabuki dance where they exchange indignities as injustice is turned into political footballs. I don’t write this to lecture or piously preach as if I have it all figured out; after all, not long ago I too let proximity to my affinities be my moral compass. I used to protest against racism that hobbled the lives of “minorities” only to discount the plight of “white” people who were being robbed of opportunities as well. I shed my tribal blinders once hardship taught me that suffering is experienced by all regardless of our differences. No matter how much they try to splinter us, we are one in this journey. Click To Tweet
What we keep missing each time we get sidetracked by our differences is the connective tissue that is at the root of the suffering felt by billions throughout the world. It is easy to dismiss the pains felt by others when we see this world through the prism of “us versus them”. Sadly, this is precisely what has become the norm as we keep getting disconnected from each other only to be hooked on inertia and animosity. The status quo remains fixed for this reason, hatred cannot be defeated through anger and resentment.
I don’t begrudge people who get upset by the toxic political climate, we find ourselves in a time of zero accountability and even less leadership. There are few adults to be found in our nation’s capital and the inmates have taken over the mainstream media asylum. The answers will not come from the top, people who make millions have little interest in changing a system that is enriching them. They manufacture dissension to keep us perpetually divided, as long as we are focused on the symptoms and don’t understand our fates are intertwined, we will continue to shrivel apart.
“There, but for the grace of God, go I”. This one statement is the reason why I stopped being enamored with politics and why I value our shared stories as humans. The child who cries in the night for her mom in a detention center could be my daughter, the parent who frantically tries to provide for his kids burdened by financial anxieties could be any one of us. Next time you see stories of adversity and anguish being advanced by politicians and pundits for ideological purposes, before falling for the trap and diving into the abyss of partisanship, try to find yourself in the shoes of those people we are conditioned to see as abstractions.
Perhaps one day we can bend the arc of history towards justice, but if we are to do that it will only happen when a critical mass of people decide to rise up with compassion instead of leading with antagonism. While it is important to remain engaged and demand justice, it is just as imperative that we feed the light within ourselves. It is easy to get sunk by acrimony that is being pumped into the ether by the news and let our souls suffer by bearing too much witness to the hostilities that seem pervasive in our time, but the only way to repel the shadows of iniquities is to be good to ourselves and be kind to others who are struggling too. #NostrosTambien
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
- Bloody 60s: the Decade that Aborted Leadership in America - August 22, 2019
- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019