On a recent flight from Houston, Texas to Newark, New Jersey, I had a seatmate that had a very interesting outlook on life. There was some chaos and disruption in the boarding area that slowed the boarding process and put many people on edge. Then as we were boarding the plane, the air conditioning wasn’t working yet and the plane was incredibly hot, causing some people to become further agitated and frustrated.
As my seatmate settled in, he looked around the airplane and then leaned over to me and said, “The world is either going mad, has already gone mad, or we have just been in denial and the world has always been mad.” He looked away with a smile and a shake of his head. Initially I thought to myself that this was going to be one really long flight. But then I thought that his statement was quite the icebreaker for a conversation, so I asked him to tell me more.
He was thrilled that I wanted to keep the conversation going. Then he shared that every day that he wakes up, he wants to just ask this question, “What’s up, world?” His real questions were around the polarizing world that we seem to be living in. And no matter where we turn, television, radio, blogs, podcasts, social media, or our newspapers, the divisiveness rules the day, or as my new friend shared, the world has gone mad.
He went on to share that it seems like there is nothing that is off limits. It’s one thing when adults choose to disagree and have major differences of opinions over the silliest of subjects, but when people start going after children, pulling them into the argument for no other reason than to just hype the polarizing situation, that is a huge problem. And that is where the world, by its acceptance of such practices, brought him to the conclusion that the world is going mad, has already gone mad, or that he has been living his life in denial for so long, not realizing that the world has been mad forever.
So, I ask you today, “What’s up world?”
Why are we all so mad and angry at each other? Is it really that we are on different sides of the aisle politically? Can we have a reasonable and rational conversation about climate change? Is it because some of us worship God and others choose not to believe in God? Are we going mad, have gone mad, or have always been mad about our healthcare or education systems? Whoa, do we dare mention transgender athletes competing in sports? Does he/him, her/she, they/them make our blood boil? Have the opinions and constant changes to what diversity, equity, and inclusion really means impacted the way we respond?
What’s up, world?
It’s good to have healthy debates about the above-mentioned topics and many other topics that seem to be driving people mad. So why can’t we world? Can we shelve hostility and replace it with courtesy? Doesn’t it make more sense to talk and hear each other out calmly without feeling defensive or worse going on the attack? We will never completely agree on everything, there is just no chance of that. But as we figure out the answers together, we can begin to get closer to the middle even if we can’t find a place completely in the middle.
There are some situations where we fight about something and where there is clearly an obvious right answer, but to who? Someone’s opinion does not mean that they are right, it just means that it is their opinion. And as my good friend Frank always reminds me, “Other people’s opinions are none of your business.”
What’s up, world? Can we begin the long slow crawl back to normalcy? We can if we all decide to replace hostility with peace, anger with gentleness, revenge with mercy, frustration with understanding, and hate with love, the way that we have been loved. I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we can work towards being a part of the solution instead a part of the madness, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.