Thursday, August 17, 2017

The meaning of life (in eight words)

A few months back, while riding in the car (we do a lot of riding in the car, mostly to and from music lessons, rehearsals, and gigs), I fielded a question from the back seat. I don’t recall the context of the conversation, or the genesis of the question that followed.

Norah asked, “What’s the meaning of life?”

Pretty deep for a then 10-year-old.

I paused, thought for a second (or three), and answered.

Be kind to others and do good things.

We talked about why these deeds are important. Then the conversation pivoted to something completely different. And I hadn’t thought about it since.

Or at least hadn’t thought about it until last weekend’s troubling events in Charlottesville, and its sad aftermath.

Somewhere, somehow, we as a nation have lost our way, lost this message, lost the meaning of life. Our nation has fractured into factions. We stopped playing for the same team. And, no, this is not an excuse or justification for Charlottesville. To the contrary, white supremacy and Nazism are diseases that need to be condemned, rooted out, and eradicated. They were the lone cause of what we witnessed last weekend, and there is no excuse, no defense, no “both sides.”

Generally speaking, however, our nation is broken. I do not know when or how we became so divided. How winning became more important than all else, and being right, at all costs, became more important than acknowledging that it’s possible that someone else could hold a different point of view. It’s ugly and it’s destructive, and our nation will not remain viable if we continue down this path. Our great nation will die on the vine of hatred and ego.

I also do not know how we got here, and I certainly don’t know to fix it. What I do know is that I have this forum, with thousands upon thousands of readers, and I have hope. Hope that some who stand on one side or the other of this divide will read this post, pause, and think about becoming part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Our nation stands on the edge of a key moment in our history. And, no matter your political leanings, if we can all just focus on this eight-word meaning of life, we will be alright. Or at least that is my sincere hope.