There’re all good and well intentioned.
Save the whale, the polar bear, the bay, the planet.
Cure the disease, feed the children, end the poverty, stop the crime.
Wear the seatbelt, don’t text and drive, don’t drink & drive.
And on and on….
Got me to thinking, when was the last time everybody (and I mean everybody) was on the same page.
I wasn’t around back then but my guess is that in WWII we had to defeat Hitler and the Emperor of Japan. More recently, it was during the immediate aftermath of 911 that we experienced the same sense of solidarity. We were united in shock, sorrow and outrage but unlike WWII, there was no nation to attack, no capital to capture. The enemy was (and remains) Al Qaeda, an amorphous enemy that mutates. The sense of solidarity disappeared when we took our eye off the ball to pursue Sadam Hussein in Iraq rather than Bin Laden in Afganistan/Pakistan.
So back to slogans and causes…What is the one thing we all could get behind? Global warming/climate change might be a logical choice, a good start. After all we only have 1 planet and it affects us all both now and in the long term (if we chose to have a long term). The problem beyond the naysayers is that this issue it is not immediate and visceral. We are like the frogs in the pot of increasingly hot water not knowing that it’s time to jump out before the boiling point is reached.
As a history buff, this got me to thinking…When in history has everyone been on the same page. It seems that this happens when circumstances are so dire that there is no other choice. Examples include, the plague, all out wars, revolutions, famines, droughts, natural disasters, etc. When the lava is flowing down from the volcano and you are fleeing for your life, there is no time to contemplate noble causes. Might this be our fate with regard to climate change and global warming? That will certainly crystalize our focus but might it be too little, too late.
Back to a more optimistic perspective, why can’t we galvanize around what I call the “blizzard effect”. This is that time during a snowstorm when everyone is helping to shovel eachothers driveway and rescue stranded vehicles. So why can’t we be more consistently engaged in the communal mode during the blizzard effect. Probably because we do not collectively have the same sense of urgency and are all pursuing noble but disparate causes.
With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, it got me to thinking about how the pilgrims had to focus exclusively on staying alive and not starving. They cooperated with the Native Americans and thankfully the Native Americans cooperated with the pilgrims. Unity of purpose born of necessity coupled with cooperation and collaboration.
Ahh, the good old days of early America. Fast forward a few years and the colonists were doing much better and guess what…now they are engaged in witchhunts (a term we all too frequently hear about today) and the burning of witches. Seems like the better off the colonists and early settlers got, the worse off it got for the Native Americans. Always interesting to see how uncooperative and downright ornery we get when our bellies get full and we loose focus.
Unity of purpose and empathy for others only seems to rear its head when staring into the face of extinction.
Happy Thanksgiving to All