Across the globe a plane crashes, families mourn, leaders speak. Questions swirl as answers come in slowly. Countries are angered. Accusations are leveled. Once again our humanity is highlighted as our hearts go out to those we will never know and yet somehow feel akin to.
Across the nation, the climate is contentious as leaders from both political parties ramp up the rhetoric in efforts to energize their base, hoping to garner more support in the days to come. Chosen topics are those that divide us, the extreme on either side becoming the loudest voices and thus, the most likely to be heard.
A presidential candidate stirs up fear with predictions of “the worst depression of our time” and “more terrorist bombings to come. ”The news media circles like buzzards, zoning in on the ugliest, amplifying the effect and serving only to widen the chasm. A state convention filled with passionate citizens is reported as violent and suddenly the face of an entire group is painted as hate filled and ignorant. Idealists pledge commitment to a movement, refusing acceptance of the status quo, and are demonized and disrespected. Votes that have yet to be cast are dismissed as irrelevant by candidates who declare victory before the process is completed. Arrogance in place of humility widens the chasm.
Frustrated, individuals seek those who share their concerns, a sympathetic ear willing to commiserate, to feel even in the slightest way that they are not alone. Emotions intensify and voices are drowned out. Thoughtful arguments are passed over for the more sensational and ridiculous. Soundbytes replace facts. And the chasm widens.
Bombarded by the ugliness and inundated with negativity, a feeling of helplessness begins to seep into the collective consciousness and with it, fear. Groups of people organize in efforts to affect change. Speaking out for the less fortunate, the marginalized, and the minority, hopeful that the power of numbers will create a voice loud enough to be heard over the buzz of mass media and fear mongering politicians. Private businesses boycott against discrimination and citizens protest in larger numbers. Facebook profiles fill with colors representing the country of a downed airliner as individuals seek ways to show solidarity across continents. Airline security lines lengthen and for a day or two, everyone is patient.
Beyond the hysteria of the media and the passion-filled rhetoric of the political arena is where our collective humanity lies. When the veil of difference that divides us is lifted, what remains can serve to bring us together.
Closer to home, a box of doughnuts carried through an airport elicits smiles and spontaneous conversation amongst strangers. Laughter fills the air carried on the aroma of the freshly baked pastries and no one asks for party affiliation or religious beliefs. Jokingly a security guard insists payment in the form of one original glazed before passage is granted. Once onboard, fellow passengers express playful gratitude that someone brought “snacks for everyone.” It matters little if or when the person in the adjoining seat last attended church. No one seems to care how their neighbor is planning to vote or even if they are registered. In this moment at least, any concern about terror attacks, disenfranchised voters, or discriminatory laws are out of mind. The veil that separates has been lifted if only briefly and only love remains. And where there is love, fear cannot dwell.
Perhaps what the world needs is more doughnuts.