What Are We Creating?

Whatever we all choose to create today, I hope it is something of abiding value, that transcends this moment, and brings us the promise of better days ahead.
10/07/2013 12:02 pm ET Updated Dec 07, 2013

I'm on a lot of email lists. Political ones. And this week, I have received more political emails than at any other time, including the past two presidential elections. It was as if someone, somewhere out in the political ether, thought I could stop the government shutdown, or at the very least, wanted to get me riled up about it.

I have to admit, if I pause and think about it, I get more than a wee bit agitated. So job well done, emailers. But amid all this ire and vitriol spewing forth from all directions, I'd like to talk about the bigger issue at hand -- creation.

Now, work with me on this for a second. I think if you look at the general climate today, whether it is the casting off of rejects on every single reality television show, or the political rhetoric, it is about tearing down. It is not about building anything. We are in an age of destruction. And some would argue that this is a necessary precursor to whatever is about to be created. But I think it is an infirmity that is eating away at society's core.

So to me, the real question we should be asking ourselves is, "What are we creating?" because we are, at all times, creating something. And if the answer is intolerance, animosity, rancor, or just plain mean-spiritedness, then I think we should rethink whatever it is we're about to say or do.

I get it. It's much easier to know what we're against. To shut down, to close off, to hold hostage, to scream, and stomp, and criticize. I'm pretty sure we all tried that at some point in our lives -- like, say, when we were two, just to see if it worked. Of course, when we saw that it didn't get us what we wanted, we gave up the behavior. But maybe some people did get the payoff they wanted -- attention. And maybe some parents did cave in to the demands of the miniature tantrum thrower. I don't know. But what I do know is that we've gotten ourselves into a situation where the best interests of the many are being sacrificed for the desires of a few, and that is the first step down a slippery slope with no good outcome for anybody.

So I repeat, what are we creating? Is it a world in which poverty is perpetuated or eradicated? Is it a country where everyone is valued equally? What are we creating? Is it a country in which the right of the individual to stock up on military capacity assault weapons outweighs the right of school children not to be massacred in their classrooms? What are we creating? Is it a country where the weakest and most disenfranchised among us are cared for and about, or are they discounted, discarded, and disposed of? What are we creating? Is it okay with us that an entire generation of children has not known a day in their lives when this country was not at war? What are we creating?

It is easier to turn away from what is ugly -- in ourselves and in each other. And it is definitely easier to think we bear no responsibility in remedying any situation. But whether by speaking up or staying silent, we are creating something. Whether by taking action, however small, or by remaining in denial, we are creating something.

So as for the government shutdown, I understand what Republicans want to defund and destroy -- the Affordable Care Act. My question is what do they want to create?

Whatever we all choose to create today, I hope it is something of abiding value, that transcends this moment, and brings us the promise of better days ahead.