Maybe we can all get along.
This brief thought here is a slight divergence from my typical topic, but it is on my mind, so I decided to share it. Also, I am no expert, no anthropologist, these are just the ramblings of a fathers mind.
I am just finishing a trip with my family to Disney World. It took three days and six states to get here. Here is what I have seen. Every race, every color, every age, every gender, every orientation, every religion, every country, every background, every class, every income, and every disability. I have seen hundreds of thousands of people. Here and on the drive. What else have I seen? Happiness, helpfulness, camaraderie, love, concern, fellowship. Everywhere. People smile at each other and receive a smile back. They hold doors for each other. Help look out for each other’s children, chat, and coexist. Peacefully. In other words, everyone has been just downright neighborly.
What haven’t I seen yet? Well in 4000 miles across six states and over six days at Disney around an average of 130,000 people per day (Disney’s number, not mine) I have not seen hatred, bullying, or palpable tension between race, gender, orientation, or religion. I saw no violence, (except between my own kids, and that usually has to do with who got to sit where or push what button). I saw no protests, no banners, and no screaming of slogans or obscenities. I saw no nazis, no white supremacists, no socialists, no masked protestors. I did see a few people with slogans or messages on their clothing, but even they were acting appropriately, and no one seemed upset, put out or offended. Everyone treated each other with dignity and respect in most cases or with indifference at the very least. Everywhere. We all ate meals in the same places, each had their own traditions, their own habits, values and customs, and everyone else just seemed respectful of that. I saw all the people that my TV tells me are mortal enemies right now, and they were all playing nicely together. Their kids all played together, unaware of their differences, oblivious to their predetermined biases or privileges. We helped each other, offered assistance, smiled as we walked past and all laughed at the same jokes. Not once did I witness the hatred and radical separation that the news tells me exists everywhere. Now maybe this was just around me, maybe I lucked out and accidentally missed out on the “real” America that my TV depicts every time I turn it on. That is possible, I have been lucky like that in the past. Or maybe, just possibly, we actually do get along. Maybe we do it all the time, all over the place. Is it possible that most people are respectful but the few who are not get all the attention? Could it be that we see so much anger and division around us only because we are always being reminded to look so hard for it? Possibly, when we get someplace like Disney, we have so much fun that we forget our social guilt and anger we are being asked to carry around with us all the time to be good people or fit in. Or maybe, most people are just decent people everywhere most of the time. Could it be that Bill and Ted were right and the secret to saving the future is as simple as “Be Excellent to Each other and Party On”?
I stepped out on this journey, a sheltered Northerner, expecting hatred, grief, division, and strife. I expected North against South, race against race, sex vs sex, cultures at war. That is all I see on every TV screen I turn on. Instead, all I found were people, normal people. Different in so many beautiful ways but all the same where it matters most. All neighbors, all humans, all sharing an experience and a planet. Together. I left home afraid for what my TV and the daily news told me was ahead of me and came back proud of our humanity.
So what is my take-away from all this? The point of this rambling if you will? Just this: It may not be as bad out there as you think. It may not be as dire as you have been told. There are good people everywhere with plenty in common, including decency and compassion, and we will make it through this together. We have this. We really are going to be OK.
Or maybe I am completely wrong, but if I am, then like I said to start this, there is still hope for us all. If hundreds of thousands of people across six states and over 4000 miles can play nice just long enough for me to get past them, that just proves we really can still get along.
Maybe we can all get along.