I've been overwhelmed lately, as I think many of us have, with thoughts about life and death, guns and terrorism, rights versus responsibilities, politics and the media.
The noise is so deafening, I can't hear myself think. The violence is real. The chaos is maddening. And any sane, rational person is teetering toward the brink of despair, if not already having arrived there fully.
We're grasping, gasping, trying to catch our breath and find our footing, but the foundation is shaky and the path seems perilous. What once brought us comfort doesn't seem to be working anymore. And what we fear, we can barely give a name to, though we try daily, and the internet is filled with people, parties, religions, and organizations to blame for our every woe.
We are at a tipping point of sorts, and the energy is palpable. Those of us who like to pause to actually think before we say or do something are seemingly crippled with inertia, a stark contrast to the mob mentality inundating us.
A few days ago, I was having a conversation with someone at three in the morning...when all deep conversations must take place, because the world quiets down momentarily. And it got me thinking - not about the madness in the world of which we were speaking, but about what sustains us through it.
What sustains us?
What beliefs do we hold onto when the waters are rising, threatening to envelop us?
What is the thought that brings tranquility in the midst of any storm?
What idea gives the assurance that we can survive whatever it is we are going through?
What sees us through?
What is our purpose in this craziness? What are we to do with our time here? And why were we created and given this life to begin with?
In other words, "What's it all about, Alfie?"
Each of us must answer these questions for ourselves. And I believe that in doing so, we re-engage with a core piece of our essence and can navigate our lives and this world in a more fulfilling way.
Me personally, I think my purpose is to use whatever I've been given to make something or someone better for my having passed this way.
I believe I have a spiritual, moral, ethical, intellectual, emotional, professional, and physical obligation to do so and to embody and magnify love's presence on this planet.
Radical idea, I know. Didn't work out so well for Jesus or Gandhi, not that I'm anywhere near their league, but ya gotta aim for the stars, right?
Gun violence and terrorism in the United States are the topics du jour, every jour, it seems. And I don't kid myself. I am not going to talk you into my belief that no one needs a gun unless you are going to eat whatever it is you shoot.
Is it the guns that kill people or the people holding them? It doesn't matter. People are dying, and the beginning and end of it is that we no longer consider life sacrosanct.
Don't get me wrong. We each consider our own lives to be sacred...just not everyone else's. And not humanity's as a whole. We separate, and segregate, and make exceptions. We do not consider that what is done to one of us is done to all of us.
It is not a matter of religion. It is a matter of practicality and civility. If we are not our brothers' and sisters' keepers, then we are doomed to perish, because, friends, what does happen to one, does happen to all...eventually.
No matter how much you think guns protect you, they merely change who gets killed...today. The underlying acceptance of killing each other, just as long as it's the "bad guys," will neither gain us the moral high ground or any kind of lasting peace and security.
Instead of inciting fear to the point of mass hysteria, we should arm ourselves by vigilantly participating in our own lives fully.
Do you know your neighbors? Your kids' school teachers? Their friends?
Do you have your own friends? Do you participate in your community? Are your eyes open and are you informed and aware of your world?
Who knows that you care about them outside of your own four walls?
Or are you hunkered down in your cave with your mobile device and large flat screen, deluding yourself into thinking that Facebook posts are a form of active participation in life or that love of a particular sports team actually matters.
What sustains you?
If we can each answer that and follow that, then maybe we can find our way to sustaining not only ourselves, but our country and the world.