I have 1484 ‘friends’ on my Facebook page. Whether I know all 1484 of them personally doesn’t matter. At some point, we made a mutual agreement to become acquainted. One of us sought out the other one and said ‘hello.’ The other one responded by accepting that ‘hello’ and becoming friends.
Isn’t that how life happens, how friendships are born?
I find it interesting that we view total strangers as friends. I have never actually met, face to face, with probably 1300 or more of these friends. Still, those perfect strangers are my friends. But what I—and more than likely, you—fail to realize is on the other side of the device (where you are reading this right now) is a person. For me there are 1484 people looking back. Of those 1484 people, probably less than 200 of them actually interact with me. I’m okay with that.
Well, because they are all people, and they have lives and cares and worries. They have dreams and ambitions. Some are sick and in need of prayer or comforting words. Others are fine and life is being very good to them right now. But all of them are people.
A little perspective if you will. On my friends list:
There are rich folks and there are poor folks, and there are those in between.
There are folks from every state in the United States.
There are folks from England, Australia, Canada, Germany, Russia and, yes, the Middle East.
There are folks who work as lawyers and nurses and teachers.
There are folks who work as bartenders and taxi drivers and in retail stores.
There are folks who work in factories and restaurants.
There are folks who work in the business of religion and others who work in the business of politics.
There are cops and firemen.
There are single moms and single dads raising their children the best they can.
There are married couples raising their children the best they can.
There are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
There are straight folks, too.
There are musicians and voice instructors.
There are successful writers, as well as fledgling ones with dreams of writing for a living.
There are readers who love books.
There are Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Non-Denominationals, Methodists, Nazarenes, Atheists, Agnostics and maybe even a Satanists or two. And yes, there are Muslims, as well.
There are liberals, and there are conservatives.
There are folks who like heavy metal music. Others who like rap. Still, others who like classical, and some who like country and some who like bubblegum pop. There are those who like it all.
There are sports fans and there are folks who can’t stand sports.
There are those who love movies and television.
There are those who don’t care much for either.
There are those who love The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, and those who have never seen the first episode of one or both shows.
There are those who will only drive a Chevy or a Ford.
There are high school friends on here, too.
There are whites, blacks, Asians, and Native Americans.
Why does any of this matter? Simple: all of them are people. People with hopes and dreams, and people who just want to make it home to their loved ones at the end of the day. They, like you and I, have feelings. They, like you and I, have ambitions. They, like most of us, are saddened by events where people are killed recklessly and needlessly because of hate and fear.
During this week where America celebrated its independence, at least seven people died who should still be alive today. The key word isn’t black or cop. The key word here is ‘people.’ Seven people are dead and millions more are angry and some are even enraged to the point of…hate.
Today I sit at my kitchen table having not only celebrated my nation’s independence, but also my birthday. Seven people will never see another birthday. Their families are forever changed, and many of them are mad, not just at those who killed them, but at other people as well—people who have nothing to do with the events that unfolded this week.
There are those who want revenge and those who want to take away someone else’s freedoms and those who want justice now. There are those who will lump everyone into a category because of a few people’s actions. There are those who will scream and demand change, demand our government do something about this.
Here’s the problem with that: change will never come about until we, the people, change our way of thinking and change our hearts. We, the people, are the only ones that can bring positive change. Not our governments and not our laws. The people. The same folks I have mentioned up above can make a change, but in order to do so, we have to change our hearts, we have to learn how to be compassionate again. We have to learn to love our neighbor. If we can have total strangers on a social media site that we call friends, and some of which we come to cherish and possibly even love, then why can’t we do the same to the people we come in contact with every single day of our lives?
I’m reminded of the song Under Pressure, by Queen and David Bowie. At the end they come to the conclusion that it is love that can make a difference in every person’s life. But love is so old fashioned…
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
The way I see it is, love dares you to look in the mirror, but we don’t want to do that. We want to lay blame somewhere else. We, as a people—not as a nation, as a people—need to step back and look at ourselves, and make a change, starting with ourselves. If we don’t, I fear for myself, my children, my friends, my fellow people. Because, the way I see it is if we don’t make a change in our hearts and our mindset soon, then we will never have true freedom again. We will all be prisoners to fear and rage and hate, and no one will be safe.
This, well, this is how I see it. Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.