When I was a child, I was told that Russians were evil.
Russians wanted to kill me. Russians would kill me in my sleep if I gave them a chance. Russians were evil.
If given a chance, the Russians would drop THE BOMB on me and everyone I knew.
Like many people my age, I lived with the certainty that THE BOMB was coming.
Oh, and Russia was the whole thing. There weren't separate states or even individual people with separate ideas.
There was just one big evil land mass filled with faceless ideologues who wanted only one thing - the destruction of everything I loved.
This opinion was not uncommon. I know a number of people who were raised in Evangelical households. They were told to make sure they were extra good before the Russians brought the rapture upon us. I had friends who were Mormon. We all tried out Mormon summer school only to learn that we needed to hurry up and join before the Russians killed everyone and the Mormons took up all the spaces in heaven.
Ask anyone who grew up in this time, they will tell you.
We lived in terror of those evil Russians, those guys, yes, them over there.
Recently, I found out from a Russian friend (she's from Bulgaria) that they lived in terror of us.
"You mean you thought we were going to drop THE BOMB on you?"
She nodded. (And reminded me again that she wasn't Russian, which I knew.)
I glanced over and saw something.
She looked and told me it was her immunization shot.
And then she told me this weird story - she went to school to get immunized.
Wait a minute, I went to school to get immunized.
"With the five pronged thing?" I asked.
"Yes, that was it," she said.
How could it possibly be true that my enemy had the same immunization that I had, in the same way that I had??
Her husband came over. I told him that I couldn't believe that we'd had the same immunization! He said that he had the same one. Our friend, who grew up in Idaho, was there and he said, I had it too. Her Colorado born and bred husband had the same immunization.
So let's see if you can guess.
Which one of these arms is the arm of my enemy?
Kind of hard to tell, isn't it?
These people were COMING! Those people were EVIL! They had an itchy finger on THE BOMB!! They wanted to DESTROY the American way of life.
And guess what?
They thought the same thing about us, about me.
It's funny to me. She was told that I was hell bent on destroy her life and family.
Then again, I thought the same thing of her.
Here's the point:
We have new bad guys now. Look at those Al Qaeda guys. They are... *ahem* hell bent on destroying America. And Iran? Same thing.
The mad men have changed. The threat is different.
But the story is the same.
And this time, we're also fighting among ourselves.
If this guy wins this election, our way of life will be destroyed.
If that other guy wins that other election, everything we hold precious will disappear.
The truth is that this guy and the other guy are pretty similar.
That guy on the corner? The most irresponsible person I know with the personal responsibility campaign sign in his front yard? He's as much like me as the aging hippies flying the other sign.
We focus on our differences when we're scared.
And let's face it, there's an awful lot to be afraid of right now.
The economy is weird. The world is changing fast. Those Arab people are having some kind of weird year long spring and that's pretty scary. France is still France, but Catalonia might split off from Spain. Those gay people have the nerve to want to get married. Of course, the Scots are acting up again. Folks in Idaho are see Bigfoot on a regular basis.
IT'S ALL THEIR FAULT!
Listen, we have a lot of real problems.
Rather than focus on fixing our problems, we continue to churn on the same issues because of them, those guys, who are hell bent on destroying our way of life.
When do we see this for what it is? Bull shit.
There has always been an "other" and they were always "going to destroy our way of life."
As long as we are divided, we will never have the power to solve even the smallest of problems. That's just a fact.
Problems get solved when WE come together. Solutions manifest when WE all roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Together, we can move mountains, build pyramids, create countries, support democracy, and resolve even the biggest of issues.
Divided, we spin like tops - bumping into each other and skittering away. All of our energy goes toward keeping the top moving, spinning. None of our energy is available to work on the
Very soon, this election will be over in my country. This stuff with Iran will be resolved. Syria will die down. The UN security council will get their act together and actually act. All of this will happen.
No matter what spin we put on it, these things will be resolved.
We simply have to find our way back to the vast array of what we have in common.
We need to stop spinning and harness the power of we.
You see, my enemy and I went to school one day and got our immunizations. We may have even received them on the same day. We lived in nuclear families where both parents worked. We had siblings, and while her family didn't suffer the curse of schizophrenia, they were crazy in their own way.
While our politicians foamed at the mouth over our differences, we lived very similar lives.
My neighbor and I live on the same street, drink the same water, and fight over the same parking spaces.
I had more in common with a little girl in Bulgaria than I could have ever imagined. I have more in common with my neighbor than could ever know.
It's time to put down our differences and harness the power of WE.