(It feels a little strange to be making packing lists for an operatic audition tour. And yet that's exactly what I'm doing.)
I'm taking a community leadership course this fall (stay with me - not a total non sequitur, I promise), and one of the ideas that came up was that of shared values. We assume that we all have them, until it's obvious that we really don't.
When I was teaching, it used to drive me bonkers that I was supposed to be both a content expert and also convey strong values to my students...mostly because I was in my 20s, and was trying so damn hard to master the content that I couldn't possibly imagine teaching values other than "Killing is bad. Well, almost all of the time. Yeah, I guess you'd have to look at the context. <deep breath> So, shall we start at measure 52?" (I was glad to have curious, slightly argumentative students, but when we waded into deep moral turf I was SUPER happy to turn them over to the Philosophy or Religion teachers.)
Building consensus is difficult. We - as a nation; hell, even just taking my little suburban neighborhood as an example - are woven from a complex tapestry, and to assume that we all want the same things (ok, outside of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) in the same way is to be slightly myopic, or maybe a little naïve.
I'm not a my-way-or-the-highway type. I believe for every bit of sensationalism wrung out of the news today there are good - nay, wonderful - people doing good work. Listening. Collaborating. Making beautiful art. Being responsible, being flexible, being supportive.
I would challenge us - myself first, and all of us - to seek substance over sparkle. (My husband is guffawing at that sentence, as I am a lover of all things shiny. When I walk past a jewelry display he caws at me like a crow, I love shiny so much.)
It won't be easy; we'll have to dig deeper for it. We'll have to listen a little harder to that quiet voice inside us that says "Wow. Was that amazing? I think that was amazing..." instead of asking for confirmation from friends and strangers. We'll have to buy in, show up, put our money where our mouths are and a host of other clichés that have been bastardized by business to get us to buy things.
(And when I say "we," I mean "me." But I'd love it if you joined me.)
Find something special. Enjoy the hell out of it. And then get behind it, in any way you can.
Let's grow some good stuff from the ground up.