Only embracing our common thread can keep America from unraveling

imageI generally reserve this place for humor. That’s because I believe in the power of its shared experience, and how that experience brings people together. Good humor transcends color, religion, geography, financial status or political affiliation. It’s devoid of hate and allows us to embrace a common thread woven through our humanity that we all share through laughter.

All living creatures get angry, scared, excited or worried; it’s humor that makes us human.

But there are mornings like this when being funny doesn’t feel right. The events of the past few days have spilled over from a collective cup that has been filling with a bitter brew being served during a time of unprecedented polarization within our country. We are being divided and conquered by fear — of each other, our differences, and a political landscape that inspires the worst in us instead of what defines us at our best.

And we swallow this bitter brew not because it’s what we want, but because it’s all there is.

This week’s shootings in Louisiana, Minnessota and Dallas — like Orlando — are about the kind of fear that breeds mistrust and hatred. It’s also the kind of fear that is fast becoming the oxygen within the current political atmosphere. The more of it we breathe, the more it permeates us, coursing through our life blood and into our hearts until that fear we breathe is what sustains us. 

Without question, black lives matter.

Because all lives should matter.

Whether black, white, rich, poor, Christian or Muslim, embracing that simple truth is the first step toward ending the fear and, more importantly, reclaiming the best in ourselves and the things that unite us as Americans.

Yes, I believe in the power of humor.

But even more so, I believe in the power of the people who share its common thread. Together, we can fix what has started to unravel; we can define ourselves through our unity rather than by the things that divide us; we can demand that our political landscape be used to bear real solutions instead of devisive rhetoric.

And, once again, we can sit together and share a laugh or two…






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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

57 thoughts on “Only embracing our common thread can keep America from unraveling”

  1. I appreciate your sentiments here, Ned, I do and I have been seeing them constantly, but I think and feel the concept is far ahead of the reality. When all lives are truly equal in rights and understandings, we will believe all lives matter. I just watched a short video of woman asking an audience if they would like to be treated as a black person in today’s society, not one of them stood up. When we are all working to stand up to say something is wrong, regardless of color, role in society, position of authority, we will all matter. This has never been the case on this continent for over 500 years.

    Yes, all lives do matter and if we mean that, we all need to stand up and make our voices be heard where we see the injustices that we take for granted on the news every day.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Robyn. And I know my sentiment may seem a little “pie in the sky.” However, as you so eloquently said, we have to stand up and say something is wrong first. Or at least discuss the recipe for that pie in the sky before we can all enjoy it together 😉

    2. I believe that if everyone stands up for what they think should be changed it would be. Reality shows thought, that when it matters many are scared to stand up… And there’s the problem. As long as people remain quiet things will just continue…

  2. Thank you. I live in Baton Rouge, and have become as fixated on what’s happening – as I send my kids out to camp/playschool mere blocks from where this incident occurred – as I do when there’s a hurricane in the Gulf. Watching. Pacing. Waiting to see how bad it gets this time.

  3. It seems like the majority of normal people are paused, willing to do what’s right, but lacking in direction on how to ‘fix’ things and as a result we’re all just bystanders, who watch the horrible events unfold around us, because we don’t know what to ‘do’. It’s like we lack a collective training on how to respond in a crisis. I don’t want to risk offending someone unintentionally, yet I don’t want to tip toe around political correctness. I just want, NEED, things to be fixed because I don’t understand how things are at this point. I was raised in a diverse neighborhood and did not know about racism until I was an adult. Maybe this made me naive. I simply assumed the entire world was like I was, as in my mind, it made complete sense. You are either friends with someone or not, based on your compatibility as a person, not because of their color. Because I was raised in a military family, RANK mattered more than color. AUTHORITY, mattered more than color. What’s been happening, frightens me. I have no solution. I can’t even begin to imagine living in regions that have that level of gun violence and have to discuss it with your kids. It makes me infinitely sad; Peoples capacity to hurt each other. We have to stop it. We have to.

    1. I live in Oregon now, but grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood outside of LA. I was the minority, but the thought never crossed my mind. We were all just part of our neighborhood. There were good people and not so good people, and it had nothing to do with skin color — and everything to do with who you were as an individual. It just doesn’t seem that difficult of a concept to grasp. Yet instead of grasping, we are pulling triggers.

      1. …we grew up in a very similar fashion then…my people came in all colors and colors had nothing to do with friendships…it mattered more if you were from the have or have not areas…

        1. I had a feeling this was the case, although there were very few “haves” in my part of town — which I’m guessing is something else we have in common.

  4. Such a huge problem that we can get mired up in hand wringing because we don’t know where to start. No single one of us can heal the world. How about we each just get to work on our corner of it. I can commit to teaching my children that all lives matter and ensure that they have the chance to grow up in a more diverse community than I grew up with. I will also teach them to tell jokes, funny ones that make people laugh till they cry.

  5. Of course all lives matter. That goes without saying. But the fact that black lives matter is something that needs to be said over and over and over until it something that everyone believes. All lives have not faced the discrimination, prejudice, and lack of opportunity that some lives have.

    1. Very true, Sheila. And I didn’t mean it to sound as if I was downplaying racism. I just want there to be a day when we there won’t be a need to focus on one group over another — because all lives are treated with the same level of respect and appreciation.

  6. Sadly, people hate is easier to surrender to than understanding and forgiveness.
    But by recognizing our similarities rather than concentrating on the differences, we stand a chance of rising above.
    Well done, my friend.

    1. Thanks, Robert. There’s no quick fix, and the road is a long one. But I’m glad knowing there are people like you and so many others who are willing to travel that road.

      Thanks, my friend.

  7. What a wonderful post, Ned. I’ve been saving it for a quiet time to fully let is soak in. I’m scared right now, truly frightened and worried about where we might be heading.
    Words and attitudes like yours bring a comfort to a suddenly mute person like me. Thank you for speaking your truth and for making your (our) corner of the sphere full of love, respect, and hope.

  8. Let me ask you this — how comfortable or inadequate did you feel to write this blog? No sentiment, no opinion, seems to feel right. I see people of every race, color, creed or culture struggle to find the way that they feel right now. We’re confused. We’re not sure what we feel. Somehow we feel that we are part of what is wrong, yet we don’t know why. We want to blame someone or something for what is broken, yet that just seems like it is the root of the problem. We feel like we are in denial — but are we really?

    1. What I felt more than anything was concern, Steve. Concern about the hate rhetoric that is becoming so prevalent in politics, social media — like children calling each other names on the playground because we don’t know any other way to communicate. I find it a sad irony that in the “age of communication” we seem to be more divided than ever, and instead of an exchange of ideas, we are settling for an exchange of name calling, labeling and assumptions.

      And I don’t see it getting any better as the elections draw closer and people draw into their camps even more. To me, this election is a reflection of the least we have to offer rather than the most.

      1. I agree. We have become people who speak without knowledge, who judge simply because it is popular to do so. That translates into politics, social issues, and has turned us into an uninformed culture of popular opinion.

  9. You are a wise man but you also illustrate the meaning of patriotism in this post. The patriot stands for a cause greater than himself and in the United States that cause is E Pluribus Unum. I’m honored to know you.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s hard to make jokes while reading what’s going on. It’s hard to be uplifted. And still we need to keep it up. Otherwise we will add to the brew. If we want to or not. Good reminder! Thanks for writing it!

  11. Reblogged this on A Momma's View and commented:
    This simply can’t wait to be shared “only” in my Picks e d of the week. I had to reblog it now. How very true!
    When do we finally stand up for what seems so logical? When will we see people for who they truly are and not for the color of their skin? When will we stand up and say enough?

  12. Wow. What a post and what a great string of comment. Thanks to A Mommas View for reblogging it else I would not have discovered you. Hate is not a family value nor is it intuitive, it has to be taught and nurtured. The question for me is why, given the outpouring of love and tolerance expressed by so many of all races, creeds and ideologies, do we tolerate a society that rewards bigotry in any form? In my opinion there is a large element of divide and conquer present in the so-called racial divide that threatens the fabric of our nation. We can trace this all the way back to the reconstruction that followed emancipation, a time when the winners of the war took positive steps to place at odds the freed slaves and the poor white southerners. At that time those two groups had more in common, poverty and lack of property, than they had separating them. Where are the leaders in the poorer precincts touting education and inclusiveness as a way to break the cycle of poverty? Where are the conversations that abandon “this is how you are being done wrong” for “this is what you must do to lift yourself and your brothers out of this mess?” Any true community leader would not focus on reinforcing negatives and yet that is what we see in those communities that most need positive messages and positive examples from its leadership. We need look no further into the past than the late 1970’s and the influx of Vietnamese refugees. Dropped into a strange land, a foreign culture and suddenly being a minority faced with a great deal of hatred from their new neighbors, they banded together and pledged their mutual support, that each, when achieving some modicum of success, would share it with the community. Where is that spirit in our so-called slums, barrios and ghettos? Full disclosure, i was raised in integrated government housing, in a major northern city, at a time when the general population was de facto segregated and the poorer neighborhoods red-lined. We were an island of diversity because our survival depended on it. These decades later that microcosm has become the macrocosm and, as then, our survival depends not only on mutual support but also mutual rejection of all those who profit from the ethnic, racial and cultural divides.

    1. You nailed it. I think the vast majority of people aren’t racist or haters. It’s the minority of those who are, and who profit the most from perpetuating sterotypes, division and chaos, who holler the loudest.

  13. What a positive and uplifting post in such troubled times Ned. I’m glad to have read this and to have discovered you through A Mommas View. Your words are eloquent, heartfelt and transcend oceans. I also believe in humor and positivity and pray in this scary world that we can somehow make a difference by our words. We can never give up on trying to make a world a kinder place, despite all the hatred and violence around us. Thank you again for a truthful and much needed post.

  14. Seems as if there are far too many people who have withdrawn into their own little angry world. Too few adults in the room, so to speak, to thaw some of those worlds out with love and compassion.
    We need to love all newspaper columnists, even the ones in Oregon who think “Mississippi” when they type “Minnesota” 🙂

    1. So very true, and ironic, especially when you consider this is the era of “communication,” yet people are retracting into their own “little angry world’s.”

      And damn! I knew I should have spelled it “Minnissippi” to cover my bases…

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