It’s now a norm. Something bad happens in the cultural zeitgeist, causing widespread reaction. If it’s on a large global scale, such as the recent Las Vegas tragedy, there’s a pause to reflect for about 24 hours. Then the opinions, argument and divisiveness come. Like a boulder rolling down a steep hill. Or train travelling down the track. Pick your own analogy.
The only agreement struck anymore is that some things are truly heinous for no readily apparent reason. Or at least not one that can be offered up immediately to inquiring minds. The Why question rarely gets answered during tragedies yet that doesn’t stop us from asking it over and over. What remains odd is how that’s really the only time anyone cares about the Why.
And then there are the moments that are so personal and individualized that no one else can possibly understand what’s happened despite all the means to share at our fingertips. Someone who used to be pretty close died recently after a tragic accident. Details were sketchy via Facebook. It didn’t exactly hit like a ton of lead as if someone nearer had passed, but it did provide pause. On the same day, the car I was driving hit something, causing a bad flat on the side of a busy interstate here in Atlanta. Thankfully, Jake from State Farm came to the rescue. Sometimes things just happen; sometimes they happen for a reason. There is no single either/or that stands up to time.
When things happen on the public stage now, it’s nearly impossible to watch the range of reactions, most of which are overblown, lacking perspective and loaded with opinion vs. fact. Anything and everything is fanned like a fire straight from the T.V. set or smart phone screen to wherever we’re taking it all in. Everyone suddenly becomes an expert if they weren’t already. Hours are spent arguing over issues that don’t really direct impact us.
Thankfully, this is not the case when you travel to Italy or to Israel, or at least that wasn’t my experience during a two-week trip in early September. The first obvious difference is TVs set to 24-7 news channels don’t permeate every public space. Nor do people sit around on their phones texting and talking as if the world is going to end. No, they’re actually out, living and going about their lives in wonderful places with great sunsets (see below.)
Torri del Benaco, Lake Garda, Italy
Tel Aviv beach, Tel Aviv, Israel
It’s refreshing to be among people who choose to live first, work second. This isn’t an endorsement; just an observation. Any American worth his or her salt misses efficiency after a while. That may be our greatest asset. Another admirable trait is our creative spirit. We are an ingenious, industrial and innovative people. Or at least most are — short of a few who haven’t experienced disruption yet.
It’s my sincere hope that with a little more grit, shared values and sensory leadership that we can emerge stronger and better for the next season. If we can’t, well, I know who remains in control, always.
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