Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

An open letter to humanity...

Posted

Humanity, we gotta’ talk. I really do my best to search for understanding, stay out of judgmental thinking, and when I can manage it, hold you in my heart with unconditional love, but really, sometimes I just have to put it on the line and say it out loud: I’ve had it with you. You really are mucking things up. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be specific. I’m not just ranting out of some unfilled holes in my life, this is real.

For example, war. Can you give me one good reason, I mean a really good reason, why you should constantly be instigating wars? A lot of decent human beings get maimed or killed and it really messes with the minds of soldiers, their loved ones and a bunch of the rest of us who just plain don’t like it, can’t make sense of it and think there’s a better way. If you want to consider the planet’s bottom line, you lose a lot of what could be creative, skilled, productive, tax-paying citizens. If you can’t wrap your collective mind around it any other way, consider the tax base. And, admit it, wars usually come down to “you’ve got what we want”. Like, how did “our oil” end up under the Middle East? Puzzling, eh?

Do you need other examples? How about willful ignorance about a whole slough full of things like climate change, inadequate health care for many, a food industry that puts profits before health and nutrition, neglected children and animals, species going extinct every day, and over-population – just too many of us scrambling for some advantage, fouling our water and air and putting our garbage anywhere we can.

My patience has been worn to a nubbin just waiting for you to evolve faster. For heavens sake, you’ve had 14 million years since the great apes appeared and 200,000 as Homo sapiens. What ever have you been doing with all your time? Admittedly, you did some great things, like discovering fire and figuring out how to use tools, which, by the way, I’m still working on, so I guess I have you to thank, as well, for all those trips to the hardware store. And you figured out how to stand up, which we sure do appreciate ‘cuz it’s a whole lot easier on the knees, but that was 1.8 million years ago, so you have to admit that’s old news. That was pretty much it up until the printing press.

What have you done recently? Well, geesh, what am I thinking? Expecting you to actually give up your competitive scrambling, self-centered greed and fear of the “others” who aren’t like you? Imagining that you could grasp the concept that it works a whole lot better to lend a hand and work cooperatively, to share what we have? To understand the profound depth of the truth that when we all do better, we all do better? To get it that to have a healthy, thriving society, everyone needs to be able to participate? Henry Ford understood that in order to successfully sell his cars, there had to be consumers with enough money, and so he paid his workers well to set a high wage standard in the community. It seems like a no-brainer to me, that disparity leads to envy and resentment, that deprivation leads to desperation and people will commit acts they wouldn’t think of doing otherwise in order to survive, to provide food, shelter and health care for their families, to retain a shred of self-esteem and dignity. But how is it that I’m expecting you to get all this and participate with reason as well as passion in our political process when a whole lot of you actually cheer on a crude caricature of a human being in the personage of Donald Trump, who, in my humble opinion, is the antithesis of what we ought to strive for? How can I possibly have hopes for you to have civil discussions about disagreements, to show respect for people presenting a different perspective, to actually seek out those with different information and understandings to educate and enlighten yourselves?

Face it, we’re all you’ve got, and you’re all we’ve got, unless you have the patience to wait for sentient life to evolve or be discovered out there in the cosmos. But if that species evolves at even 1/10 of 1% faster than you’ve done, they won’t want to have anything to do with you either.

So, why do I retain hope in the face of a steady stream of disappointment? Maybe because I, along with the rest of our species, am apparently hard-wired for optimism; otherwise we would have looked at the odds and quit procreating eons ago. Instead, we have over-populated our planet with this blind optimism that there will be enough for us and for our progeny in a bright, improved future. But beyond that, I have personally experienced the depth of goodness that I believe resides in each one of us. I have witnessed people setting aside their own comfort to help others in need of physical, financial or emotional help, often with family members but also with people in the broader human family. In our community, as is true all over our country, hundreds of volunteers provide the needed help to individuals and organizations to help everyone keep afloat, giving blood, organizing fundraisers, creating music and art, providing meals, coaching Little League, giving rides or just providing a listening ear. In the wake of the recent storm, as soon as the hurricane-force winds died down, people headed outside, armed with chain saws to clear the roads, check on neighbors and help them saw their way out. (How many chain saws per capita are there up here on the Range, anyway?) So, humanity, just when I think I can comfortably settle into a stance of discouraged hopelessness, you come through with everyday acts of kindness, compassion and hope that my thin veneer of cynicism has no chance of standing up against. I thank you for that...and send my gratitude out to all of you who are helping others, making people’s lives better, and exhibiting the best qualities of what it means to be human.

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