Focusing on the many ties that bind us

We humans often find it difficult to face reality. Many of us have created adaptive ways to avoid what is uncomfortable. Eventually, the power of reality pushes through our ignorance and our unwillingness/inability to see things as they really are. The challenge we humans all face is to deal with reality while it is still manageable.

Avoidance of reality was the cause of World War II. The major powers before the war tried to deal with the rising tide of German, Japanese and Italian fascism by giving these nation-state bullies what they demanded in hopes that appeasement would avoid another war. Reality came crashing down on them with the division and invasion of Poland by Hitler and Stalin and with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Fighting and winning World War II took enormous manpower, organization and determination on the part of the Allies.

Another example of not facing reality can be seen in the series of the horrific terrorist attacks on Britain recently. English politicians and an angry public are screaming that something must be done to stop these kinds of attacks. In actuality, unless the British government keeps people from driving and confiscates all the knives in the country, such attacks will continue on soft targets. That’s reality, no matter how much the angry populace screams, “Do something.”

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is also struggling to face facts. Opposition to his rule is occurring at the grassroots level. Young people are fed up with Putin’s long hold on power and are going out to demonstrate against corruption and a lack of democracy. At least 145 cities have seen recent demonstrations protesting poor living conditions and lack of freedom in Russia. Putin can try to suppress these feelings, but denying reality will only result in a bigger explosion as pressure builds.

He will have to deal with the unrest either by listening to young people’s frustrations, or by ignoring them until he loses control.

Closer to home, observing both political parties in action, it is easy to see that many of the most fervent devotees hold party loyalty to be more important than what might benefit the nation as a whole. At this point, very little is getting done in Congress as factions have formed within both parties. In the Republican Party, the Freedom Caucus makes uncompromising demands over healthcare, while moderate Republicans think about the effects of major change upon their constituents back home and balk at the Freedom Caucus agenda.

On the Democratic side, liberals have moved even further to the left, demanding single-payer healthcare. Bernie Sanders pushes for more and bigger government to aid the poor and to control Wall Street. The party is divided. Additionally, Democrats are still angry over Trump’s win and can’t seem to move past it.

Meanwhile little is being accomplished in Congress to deal with the nation’s problems.

President Donald Trump and his administration seem to have little clue as to how to deal with increasing scrutiny. The Justice Department investigation grows, as do House and Senate committee hearings. Leakers reveal more information, pulling the government into a vortex of startling and disturbing revelations that take both Congress and the president’s attention away from managing the nation. Trump’s tweets inflict self-imposed injuries to his presidency, making him less effective.

The longer this governmental chaos reigns, the more difficult it will be to fix the nation’s problems. There is not much we as individuals can do to either reverse or change these national trends.

The best we can do is to face our own difficult issues, one reality at a time. Working at getting our own houses in order is the most we can do to help our national leaders face the bigger issues of the nation.

Facing reality is achieved by finding ways to work together with those around us, being tolerant of those whose views differ from our own and being willing to humbly listen to others. Instead of highlighting our differences, we should focus on what we all agree are important: honesty, integrity and concern for the common good. These are the ties that bind us together as families, organizations and communities.

It’s a lot easier for us to manage our own realities than it is to solve the national and international issues that fill our news.