As of late, we’ve started doing something very dangerous. We are painting with broad broad strokes these days. Giant swaths with too wide brushes. We are generalizing and grouping and assigning stereotypes and categories. Somewhere along the way (thank you social media, thank you technology that lets us “know” or “follow” the world without ever breaking bread or sharing space with a single actual person?), we have forgotten that humanity was created with tiny intricate brush strokes. Created unique and wonderful and with detail and in the most amazing image. Each of us with our own backstory and struggle and joy. Individual moments that have defined our journeys and helped determine our steps.
But what we’ve done is stop looking at the bud, the twig, the leaf, the branch, the bark, the trunk and the roots. We see only forests – thick and dense and overgrown. We have let our view stop there. No longer different types- all just one.
In our 140 character society, we grow bored if we have to dig deeper. A story more than two paragraphs requires too much time to read. Discovering what lies beyond the headline, behind the banner- it just takes more effort than our short attention spans want to spend. We want it all to fit in a box, a designated area we create.
So we group millions of people marching as one thing. We decide a particular group of voters are all “this” and the other group is all “that.” If you didn’t march you don’t care, you agree and support and go along with it all. If you did you are a liberal, whiny democrat. An unpatriotic feminist.
I think we are getting it wrong. People are so rarely absolutes, just one thing. By refusing to see the varying degree of depths and nuances of people, we are missing so much. We are missing the beauty afforded us. There are dimensions we are leaving unnoticed. What a horrible waste.
It frustrates and frightens me. But I have hope. I have hope because I can make a difference. If just in my small circle, I plan to keep trying to see more than 140 characters worth of a person. I plan to treat people better than they deserve. I plan to offer kindness, even when it’s hard. I plan to look for the detail of each small leaf in the midst of the forest. Because I don’t want to miss the beauty. There is more treasure to be found than I deserve, but I’m going to look for it. It’s the wealth of a life well lived.
We can do better.