I haven’t written under my own name in over two years.
That’s not a sentence I ever thought I would write when, way back in the last century, I was getting down to the business of being a writer and a journalist.
Back then I grabbed onto every opportunity I could get to publish.
School papers, weeklies, trade publications, brochures. I wrote for them all as I worked my way up to a career in daily newspapers.
Along the way I got yelled at, threatened, challenged and stalked. I also won awards, accolades and admirers.
It all balanced out. The good and the bad. The stress and the release. The failures and the successes.
But then I lost it.
I lost that sense of balance.
Or more to the point, I couldn’t find it in the cacophony of voices and opinions that is now our information saturated world.
The anger morphed into cruelty and the praise devolved into superficial dreck.
The former scared me while the latter depressed me.
Is this what we have become? Handed the most powerful communications tools the world has ever known and we have decided to become…flamethrowing Orcs or perky Princess UniKitties?
The messy, muddled middle ground where I happily played and worked has collapsed, leaving behind these two opposing forces on either side of a wide expanse.
I want no part of either.
I don’t want to purposefully hurt or denigrate people who disagree with me so the Orcs are a definite no.
Neither do I want to heap thumbs ups, stars and emojis or, god help me, label someone a rock star simply because they showed up.
I know people who, whether they know it or not, are denizens of these worlds – and so do you. Some of them occupy only one side but a surprising number of them hold dual passports. The ‘with us or against us’ crowd is particularly adept at lobbing flames from their rainbow-hued catapults as they scream out their universal rallying cry of ‘haters gonna hate’.
Enough. I’m done.
I’m done ceding ground to groupthink.
To simplistic responses to complex problems.
To silencing those who dare to dissent to the majority view.
I want the messy middle back because it is occupied by people just like me. Angry, hopeful and frustrated people who are willing to apply critical thinking to the problems our communities face.
For that, I’m coming back. How ’bout you?
For our final Deep Change Happy Hour episode before Alaina and I take a summer break, we’re bringing the conversation back to where we began – talking about how change comes to communities, both big and small, with ‘roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done’ change-makers.