I know you’re tired
And you ain’t sleeping well
And likely mad as hell
But wherever you are
I hope the high road leads you home again
To a world you want to live in
— Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Hope the High Road
I had a conversation with a work acquaintance who travels down a different ideological path than me. Maybe because I’m a good listener, or because I look the part, or because he’s inclined to let his opinion be known no matter who was on the other side of the conversation, his path of maybes led down the familiar sound bites for an American conservative man: taxes, guns and the irrational left. I heard him out instead of debating him on each point I disagreed with. I’ve learned long ago to stand my ground but always hear out contrary opinions. The weakest minds among us are those who refuse to listen for want of shouting down instead.
There’s no doubt the world is experiencing friction. Humans angry with other humans, climate change turning the seasons upside down, rhetoric turned up, and bad behavior seemingly rewarded with fame and fortune. Aggressiveness is celebrated, amplified and repeated. There’s an ugly side to humanity, a side we thought we’d transcended for a brief, shining moment, but which keeps expressing itself despite our best wishes. We used to shame away the crazies, now we make them leaders and lawmakers. History strongly suggests it has always been this way. And yet we progress despite ourselves.
We all know the expression: be the change you want to see in the world. It may feel insufficient given the weight of all our problems, for we’re far from perfect. As I travel around the world, it’s clear that most everyone is trying to take the high road and be that change we all want to see. Therein lies the secret to happiness in this tragic comedy: choosing what to see. In this brief lifetime together, we must see everything, the ugly and the beautiful, and focus on connection. This is more than symbolism, it’s putting in the sweat equity that brings us closer together instead of further apart. Collectively, we are what we choose to work on.
May our work carry us higher.