Give and Take

The headlines become worse and worse each day. Almost as if there is a warped contest that has grown out of control.

I have no idea how to fix the issues facing society today. I don’t even know what to do to help. Assembling peacefully, you are a target. Speaking out in support of one group on Social Media makes you an enemy of another group, it seems. The world is gravitating towards magnetic poles and becoming binary. You are either with us or against us. You’re either a 1 or a 0.

I remember venn diagrams when I was a kid. It took two things, let’s say “People who like peanut butter” and “People who are allergic to peanuts.” You’d draw two circles on a sheet of paper. All the people who like peanut butter would go in one circle and all those who were allergic in the other circle. But the idea is that there could, potentially, be an overlapping portion of the circles. People who are both allergic, but still like peanut butter. Probably a terrible example. But you get the idea.

The headlines become more incredible by the day. [Image: Fox News]

The headlines become more incredible by the day. [Image: Fox News]

Society seems to be ignoring that there can be overlaps in views. Empathy for the #BlackLivesMatter movement means, in the warped 140-character vernacular, that you think police officers are bad. A tweet in support of #BlueLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter, is a checked box in the category of “hates black people.” Obviously, the overlap of the two circles – people who feel that blacks are being unnecessarily targeted by some shitty elements of the law enforcement community AND a staunch support of police officers who do a tremendously difficult job, for the most part, very, very well – is significant. You CAN be in both circles at the same time and the world wouldn’t crumble because you are. There can be multiple sides of a complex issue that are all accurate and worthy.

But that’s not how society seems to want it, and therefore we argue. We escalate. We hate. We take. We do not build and give.

I was thinking about this today on the way to work. There seem to also be two key circles in the venn diagram going on right now. Those who are givers and those who are takers.

I think about my family. I have three sisters, one brother, a mom and dad, a wife and two sons. To a person, they are all serving in some capacity. My three sisters all support the healthcare industry in some way. One as a nurse practitioner, one an ER nurse, and one a social worker at a hospital. My brother builds decks and does wonderful carpentry. My mother was a long-time secretary and legal clerk and my dad tested coal to make electricity more efficient as well as dedicated 30 years to building a youth baseball program. I could go on. The point is that, a core tenet for my family was to do something. My parents instilled a sense of duty to others. We are builders. We are givers. We are do-ers.

There are others who are takers as their base nature. Those who are the criminal element or those who expect handouts from others to survive. Somewhere, some clever politician said it’s waiting for a hand-out instead of a leg-up. I suppose that’s what I’m trying to say. These folks take money, they take property, and they take lives. They are black and white and gay and straight and Republican and Democrat.

I’d like to think that if you drew a venn diagram of those two elements, the “givers” – those who feel they should build and serve in some capacity would be a very large circle, and the “takers” would be a much smaller circle. Yes, there would be an element that overlaps. There would be people who switch between circles at times. I recall asking for money from Kickstarter to write my book. In that space, I was a taker. It’s sometimes good to ask for help. Over 100 “givers” gave, and I had enough money to do my project.

It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it does give me hope that the majority of Americans, or the majority of people in general, are in the “giver” circle. That gives me hope. It allows me to read each daily headline as it outdoes the one from the day before. Maybe the givers can build something to get us out of this mess. A new law. A piece of technology to protect us. A bullet made out of pudding. Something.

It does give me peace to know that I do have a center – that I will continue to try to help, even where help isn’t obvious to provide and no matter how small. There are givers in this world and builders. That’s the group I want to be in and want to stay in. And it also helps to know that the “taker” circle is very, very small.

[Featured Image from wikipedia.com]

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