Our society is making me sad. It feels like we are a group of human beings who share space, but not lives. We often don't respect or care about the humanity of our fellow citizens. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like we pride ourselves on being individuals - so much that we forget we are people who need community.
I live right near a very busy expressway, US 23, where they are doing extensive, long term construction. The speed limit is 60 mph through the construction and 45 mph where workers are present - which I assume means if human beings are out there on the expressway working on the construction, then drivers should only drive 45 mph. But they don't. I play a game with myself that Torch and 180 get a $125 donation for every car that drives through the construction zone above the posted speed limit. I am on that stretch for about ten minutes at a time three days per week. We are up well over $10,000. That's a lot of speeding. The thing is, as drivers, we seem to weigh our desire to hustle to where we want to be as more important than the safety of the human beings who are working on the road that gets us where we are going. Things can go wrong very quickly on an expressway, that's why there are speed limits. And driving is not a right. It's a privilege that we can take for granted.
Recently, there have been several fatal car accidents in the area. They are often caused by distracted or impaired drivers - who disregard the laws that give us the privilege of driving. It's unsettling that people so casually get behind the wheel of a machine capable of killing others.
Where is our compassion? Where is our ability to care about others more than ourselves? I see people talking about poverty in our country, and it's discussed as if it is a race problem and dismissed as if that's that. But poverty is a socio-economic problem, and people who live in poverty need our compassion, our understanding. They need to know that people care, and they matter. They need to be heard and understood, not callously lumped together as one stereotypical group and then criticized. They are people.
Sarah and I were in a meeting recently with some officials from the local health department. They were being very complimentary and appreciative of what we do at Torch and 180. It was nice to hear, but it's uncomfortable for us to receive compliments. We aren't doing what we do so that people will compliment us and it can feel awkward. The reality, too, is that often we hear more negative feedback than positive.
We have had to make some tough decisions as leaders of these organizations. We have made some mistakes, as well. What we have found is that even if we apologize, sometimes people would prefer to hold a grudge and try to undermine what we do in the community. But, we are just human and are doing our best to do our best with Torch and 180. And we have found a little grace, a little understanding, a little acceptance can go a long way in building community and in helping us all remember we are all human beings with lives that matter. And we need each other.