I actually had a completely different topic lined up to talk about today but a series of events prompted me to write about something that has been weighing heavily on my heart lately. While I don’t watch the news, I’m not completely oblivious to the events that happen around the world or unaware of the disconnection. It seems that this disconnection has been calling my attention louder each time. It’s a sense of separation, that somehow instead of us being a community, a unit, a collective made up of individuals impacted by the same things, we’re each little pods. If something happens that doesn’t directly impact one’s pod, it’s like it didn’t happen.
Sure you might be aware of it for a moment or two but it doesn’t have a lasting effect. This was highlighted recently when my daughter was playing outside with her friends. I heard her screaming in a voice I’d never heard before. The sheer panic and fear in her voice alarmed me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong because she was talking so quickly and incoherently. I was able to piece together that she heard a car accident on the main street parallel to where she was playing. I put on a pair of shoes and sprinted up the hill to the scene of the accident.
It took me a couple of minutes to arrive in the time since the accident occurred. When I got there, I saw about 20 people lined up along the sidewalk by local restaurants and businesses just watching the situation unfold. A car was stopped on the crosswalk with the back end completely crushed in. A lady sat in the front seat panicking, stiff, and holding her stomach. Her partner was anxious and screaming on the phone though I was unsure who he was talking to. The driver of the car that hit them was nervous and asking how the lady of the rear-ended car was. When she turned around, I realized it was a childhood friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in years. Although she was shaken up, she was fine so I told her I’d be right with her and tended to the passenger that was in pain.
I’m not trained as a first responder, but I couldn’t be yet another bystander. I knew not to move the passenger because there was no immediate danger and doing so could cause further injury. She told me she had just had back surgery and her neck was killing her. I asked her not to move and to just breathe as normally as she could. After a few moments, the color returned to her face and she wasn’t as frazzled. I turned around to survey the situation and was in absolute disbelief that by that point there were nearly 50 people watching and not one came over to even ask if everyone was ok. I realized traffic was starting to pile up and there was a risk of another accident due to this one. I sent my daughter home so that she wouldn’t get hurt and I started directing traffic. I stopped cars and waved others on for about half an hour until police and paramedics arrived.
I don’t tell this story to share the actions I took. I tell it because that situation was a prime example of what society has become. To live in a time of ultimate connectivity, there’s an incredible deficit of connection. No one had to run on foot or ride a horse for twenty miles to alert first responders. No one had to be inconvenienced or go out of their way to check on those involved in the accident. Yet why is it that no one acted? I can’t help but think that people were waiting for someone else. They were waiting for someone else to make the phone call to first responders. They were waiting for someone else to do something. They were waiting for someone else to help.
This scenario reminded me of the importance of community. One of the most important aspects is a sense of belonging. I think that sense of belonging is something that is lacking in today’s society. We’ve forgotten that we’re all interconnected, we all depend upon each other, and that it’s our responsibility to take care of one another. I see communities come together in times of distress but it shouldn’t take an accident, a natural disaster, or an act of violence for people to be united. It shouldn’t take injustice for us to stand up for one another. It shouldn’t take something having a direct negative impact on us for us to get involved and help or fight for one another.
I realize this post isn’t in my usual tone, and while I’m not writing with any malice, there is a sense of urgency in my words. It’s not up to someone else to fix things. The responsibility doesn’t start or stop with those who have signed up for it, been voted into it, or selected. It’s really up to each and every one of us. It’s up to us to find ways to solve problems our communities face. It’s up to us to not resign in defeat and accept things for the way they are. It’s up to us to speak for the voiceless. It’s up to us to come together and protect those who are taken advantage of, mistreated, and face injustice. It’s up to us to do more than care. It’s up to us to take action and as the saying goes be the change we want to see in the world.
I had to share this incredibly powerful video and not just because I’m proud of a leader who lives near one of the places I grew up. If you can’t press play and watch it right now, bookmark this to watch later today when you have 15 minutes. Two things, in particular, spoke to me the loudest. The speaker, Nick Tilson calls out the need for healing as a society. I think that part of the solution to the current state of the world is for society to heal. Heal the pains of the past that have been carried on for generations and continue to cause pain and division today. I’ll leave you with the single quote that impacted me the most from his talk.
Our vision has to be at least as big as the challenges we’re faced with.
For details about Nick Tilson and the organization he’s a part of, you can find more details here.
What are your thoughts on this post? What part spoke to you the loudest? What does this post make you feel? What does it inspire you to do? What issues face your community that you’d like to change? What did you think of the video? I’d love to hear what’s on your heart, feel free to share in the comments.