We live in a world in which we are constantly connected to everything around us but we have become disconnected from each other. We live in a society in which it is acceptable to live life withdrawn from or avoiding relationships. I, as much of America, have witnessed a campaign season that is without a doubt the most divisive in my life time in so many ways. I wish I could wonder why but it seems so obvious to me. We aren't looking out enough. We are consumed. And consumption can be a dirty beast. It can be obvious and overt manifestations such as cell phones or material things that consume our time and lives. But it can also be sneaky. At any time in our life emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, and even love can consume us in such ways that we lose sight of what is outside of us. As mothers this trap is especially easy to fall into. I don't know one mother who wasn't consumed by becoming a mother. Whether it was their love for their new baby, the weight of responsibility, post-partum blues, or a combination of any of the like, it can be consuming.
So why is looking in such a bad thing? Isn't inner reflection a good thing? Yes, but not to the point in which you lose sight of the world around you. It becomes tunnel vision blind to everything else. It creates ambivalence. We wonder why people are so filled with hate and oblivious to the plight of others but how can they be aware of others when it is okay to stay in your own bubble. We want to be seen and valued as more than our job, or gender, or race but it is impossible until we are first seen as what we all are, real. Real with successes, mistakes, flaws, and beauty.
The Gottman Institute is this incredible organization that got a lot of atttention when its founder was able to predict with incredible accuracy whether couples would get divorced. His research relates much to one thing, how a person responds to their partner's request for connection. The reality is that the vast majority of people are capable of connections, if they truly want them. We are parents, siblings, significant others, children, and even friends. All of these force us to look out and consider others in some way. But are we holding each other to expectations of connecting as a neighborhood? As a community? As a country? If we can admit we are not then maybe we can take a step toward a solution. Because if we don't then how can we ever expect change.
My biggest fear is that this election isn't a fluke but a sign of our future. The great thing about the future though is that we can change it. We have the ability to connect electronically to anything and at the same time have created real connections to nothing. We must make connections a priority and find a balance between looking in and out by looking around.