#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”
It’s easy to explain to people the things about our nation that bring joy. Whether it’s going to an amusement park, taking a road trip or buying the latest hot gadget, we get to savor some of the best experiences. There’re also jarring moments that leave painful marks in our history or sense of community.
That’s where we find ourselves with recent storms and events outside the norms. You could go down the list of media reports that have left us stunned or in despair. In these times it can be hard to know where to turn. So late night hosts Trevor Noah and James Corden are trying to help America get a grip on things.
As two ‘outsiders’ they remind us of a time in history when their countries fell out of love with everyday citizens. For Noah it was Apartheid in South Africa. For Corden it was from the days of British taxation without representation. Now they’re helping America look at itself in a more up-close and personal way.
The current political climate suggests a desire for an ‘outsider’ to come in and shake things up. As an ‘outsider’ myself, a real and present need is not to shake things up but to wake things up. That’s what we see in America today. One side wants to stoke America while the other side wants to ‘woke America.’
It’s like kicking the dirt around an ants nest in the ground. At first ants might not be immediately visible. But once the earth has been ‘shook’ they’ll come out of hiding in a kind of frenzy. In a sense that’s been a growing factor in America as underground ‘racial feelings’ are now out and about like surround sound.
One challenge is in how we experience this surround-sound effect. Someone might observe the social messaging and take away a certain theme while someone else receives something else. Why is that? Well it might be due to background or personal experience. This often affects how we hear or see things.
Program visuals or surround-sound effect might also depend on watching with a side-eye or wide-eye view. In America, seeing things with a side-eye cause people to deflect but seeing with a wide-eye cause others to reflect. Some deflect an issue as being about the flag while others reflect on social justice.
When sports figures try to bring attention to these issues they get labelled as disrespectful or unpatriotic. This way of seeing things misses the larger point. Of-course there’s the Constitutional argument of First Amendment rights. But there’s also the practical argument of choosing protest over pretense.
The idea behind peaceful protest is to bring attention to those things that we deny due to pretense. We act as if it doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem. This continued denial can return us to a place of Make America Constipate Again. That’s where we become a society of wedge issues as opposed to one of greater flow.
No matter the social, political or personal issues, we get unstuck by the heart doing more to reflect than to deflect. We do less to stoke America and more to ‘woke America.’ Some think maybe we’re on borrowed time. Hopefully one of those days we’ll experience less ‘Side-eye America’ and more ‘Wide-eye America!’
Tip: The difference between trying to ‘woke America’ and trying to ‘stoke America’ is in how citizens are trained to reflect as opposed to deflect on the issues of our time and of the heart.
Talkback: Which side of the street do you live: Wide-eye America or Side-eye America?
Tracks: Whitney Houston – One of Those Days – https://youtu.be/-GW0jZQSmsw
Wyclef Jean – Borrowed Time – https://youtu.be/ol0expOXrWA