My brain is on fire. With the onslaught of violence, fear, and hollow divisive rhetoric we’ve all been immersed in over the course of the past few months… I trust others are buzzing too. I’m finding myself over and over again in conversations and in front of television screens absorbing strings of words: words about radicalized religion, words about assault weapons, words about strategies, words about mental illness, words about refugees… all immensely weighted subjects. But somehow the talk still feels hollow, like we haven’t quite found the truth.. the right conversation, the right action.
I’ve long clung to the words of Emerson, “Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”
What is shocking me, though, is that in the wake of the growth of ISIS… in the havoc this story has wreaked… in listening and absorbing and seeking the words of so many clouted intelligent humans, I haven’t heard many trumpet blasts.
I haven’t felt once while watching the news that overwhelming, warm, passionate call to action that inevitably results from hearing what one’s soul recognizes as truth. Our conversation sounds hopeless and I believe, maybe spiritually, that truth never leads to hopelessness. Truth never leads us to compromise our morals or to abandon our humanity.
A friend asked me recently to honestly ponder whether or not I am “afraid” of radical Islam. I’m far from perfectly enlightened. The scared little girl version of Crosby is as fearful of being shot or bombed or plotted against as anyone could be. But I can’t let go of the adult me, the fully human me, I’ve worked too hard on her… and there’s something different she’s fearing.
I am so very proud and thankful to live in America. I’m proud to live in the country founded on a belief in universal human rights and dignity. I’m thankful to live in a country that forces its children to understand that the world doesn’t fit into a singular story. While raised in a religious household, I was undoubtedly exposed to the notion that living in America, means living amongst and loving people unlike myself. We have the freedom to live our own story, and respect each others’ unique stories. I am thankful to have been raised in a safe country, governed by very capable intelligence agencies that protect me well. This country has made mistakes, as any collection of humans is bound to, but I believe history prods us closer and closer to moral truths every day on a collective scale.
And the rational adult me, the one who doesn’t rely on fear to construct my worldview, is afraid we’ve become too complacent in sacrificing these gifts… these gifts that are our strength. When fifty people are murdered while celebrating on a Saturday night, the simple and right human thing to do is to mourn, to cry, to condemn the senselessness. I’m scared that our conversation shifted too quickly away from a human reaction to tragedy, that the reaction from the United States to the world… appeared absent of the human heart. When the conversations I heard on the news and in homes jumped immediately to whether the issue is gun control or radical Islam.. it seemed to me as if we were looking for an explanation. There is none and there never was. I’m scared we’re compartmentalizing our heads and hearts in a way that will lead us to value policy over people, that we’re desensitizing ourselves to pure grief.
I believe, again perhaps spiritually, that there is a rather beautiful explanation as to why military action against ISIS isn’t working. This struggle requires us to sharpen our rationale, to expand our compassion, to look hard and cry as we search for truth…on a global scale.. it’s around dinner tables, at church, and at bars.. because this is a battle of ideas. The good news is… in the battle of ideas the truth always wins.
For those of us that love life, that love partying with our friends, that love to hear profound stories of the human experience and cry if we have to… it is now our obligation to make sure truth is expressed as clearly and as often as possible. Let us not construct our worldview out of fear and sacrifice our humanity, because then what we are afraid of surely wins. In the words of Patton Oswald, “The good outnumber you and we always will.” So let’s live up to our potential.