Like millions of other people around the world, I have a Facebook account. Also like millions of other people, my exchanges on Facebook comprise my primary means of communication with friends, old and new.
While writing has never been my primary career, there is hardly a time since my first “professional” job as a minister in 1960 that I have not written on a regular basis. At first the writing was primarily sermon summaries, newsletters and special bulletins. Over my many years writing has become my way of living and contributing to the stream of ideas that move through all of us in one way or another. I now am the principal author of three web logs (blogs). Each blog was developed to serve a particular need to comment on some facet of the lives we live today—personal, social/political and lately, alternative dimensions of consciousness.
Imagine, if you can, my surprise at finding on Facebook a fresh comment on an article I wrote two years ago for my LifeCentering blog. It was titled, “The Journey of Being Alive.” It was about my discovery that I had become an observer of life rather than an actor. I realized that after 20 years of living alone I had become quite isolated and insulated from doing things, anything!
As I read and then re-read the article several times considering the words and the implications of observing life rather than living life, I could not help but acknowledge how easy it has become to stay on the sidelines. I do not write articles as often, but using Facebook I comment often, much to the dismay of some I suppose, since it is mostly social/political commentary. It is not always pleasant.
We are living in the most rancorous and angry times I have seen in my 81 years. I do not remember such volatility in the responses to the Vietnam War. It is true that the physical aggressiveness then may have been more present than what we see today. However, today’s volatility is much more immediate and widespread due to the fact that anyone can Tweet, post, write a blog, photograph and post events, etc. There is a high level of engagement, much of it hateful and negative. Lost in this kind of engagement is the fact that there is also a larger number of persons actually coming together to act to bring about change. Observers still observe. Writers still write. But the times are demanding actors, initiators, doers.
It is difficult not to see that social interaction is getting out of hand, encouraged in large part by the current candidates for the Office of President of the United States. It is almost impossible to believe that someone like Donald Trump could actually be rallying thousands of people who support his message aggressively. Unfortunately, the same can be said regarding Hillary Clinton.
As for me, I do not seem to be motivated to do much beyond comment. To feel this way would appear to negate the conclusions reached in my original article from 2014. Is it enough to be an opinion writer? Is the attempt to inspire others to become involved in the society we share together enough? I cannot honestly answer that question. I sometimes feel guilty about writing rather than walking a picket line or knocking on doors to get out the vote. However, long ago I knew that I was not the person whose calling was demonstrating in the streets or engaging physically in the struggle for change. I think, I consider the facts as I discover them, I share the philosophical conclusions I reach. That is what I do. You are not required to agree with my conclusions or my particular philosophy of life. If you end up thinking in a slightly different way, or if you see other possibilities for change, of if you find that you are led to be in the streets demonstrating for what you believe as a result of something I have written, then I have served a purpose.
Regardless of what you do, or don’t do, or what I may do or not do, change is coming. It has been coming for a long time. I personally believe there is a strong possibility that it will be disruptive in a manner we have not seen since the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. Oddly, the same issues are at stake: freedom from what some consider as an illegitimate governance (as in the King of England); freedom from slavery (Civil Rights for all individuals and groups); and a desire for a country and a government that is truly representative and responsive to its constituencies. Except for Native Americans, we have all come here from somewhere else. We all are part of the fabric that has always made this a great nation. If we are to "make America great again" it will be by coming together in harmony, mutual respect, and acceptance of the unique cultures we each contribute.
I am still alive after all these years of my personal history. I expect to be alive for a little more history. I continue to make new friends and think about ideas in new ways. I will probably continue to write about it.