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It’s easy to conclude that people are the problem.

It sure looks like people are to blame for pretty much everything that ails us. People are responsible for all this political, economic, environmental, sociological, technological, religious mess. Greedy narcissists have corrupted, stolen, and broken the world. And ignorant rubes have allowed it to happen.

I am aware that railing against my fellow humans like this only makes me more miserable.  But much of the time, I’m so baffled, frustrated, and furious that it’s hard to see it any other way.  I can’t understand the unbridled meanness, selfishness, and bigotry. At least once a day, I howl in despair, “What the fuck is wrong with people?!”

I know we all have fears and frailties.  None of us manages always to be our best.  All of us behave badly on occasion, revealing shadowy, baser instincts.  What doesn’t make sense to me is how overt it is nowadays, intentional even —  the fact that hatred and ugliness seems to be the point.  WTF?!

But I’m trying really, really hard not to turn into a misanthrope about it.

The trouble with misanthropy — a generalized dislike of humankind, which is the logical progression from the idea that people are the problem — is that this pretty much makes it impossible to see any solution. Blaming and despising other people not only leaves me sad and isolated, it also makes me feel hopeless. And then I want to give up. Which becomes part of the problem.

Because the thing is: whether or not people are the problem, I also believe that people must be the solution.

And that’s very hard to see when we get lost in blame, vilification, and estrangement. When I’m other-ing in the same way of which accuse them. I don’t feel empowered when I’ve given up on myself, when I’ve given up on us. That’s how we forfeit the opportunity to be part of anything, of everything that will happen next.

An orientation towards people as the problem tends to eclipse all our other capacities. Our capacity for creativity and innovation, for kindness and empathy, for change and transformation, for possibility. For greatness.

I need to remember who we are. We the people.

Last week, my niece Mary took Travis and me to see the tour of Funny Girl at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford, CT. I enjoyed it a lot. I’d never seen Funny Girl on stage, though I’m fairly familiar with the 1968 movie musical. Anyway, one of the big Act I numbers is, “People Who Need People.”

It’s a song about which I’ve never had very strong feelings one way or another. Maybe it’s tended to seem a little corny to me, a little cringey, the longing of it. But last week it resonated deeply. In the show, a young, newly successful Fanny Brice is considering her independent ascent to stardom and musing about how this might or might not fit with her need for relationship and community. She sings:

“People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.
We’re children, needing other children,
And yet letting a grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside,
Acting more like children than children.”

It’s lovely. And I think it touches on a balance we all need to find. Whether we’re introverted or extroverted, single or partnered, solo artists or collaborators. There’s tremendous Power, Grace, and Good in acknowledging and embracing the fact that we all need each other.

Independence is great; interdependence is greater. Self-reliance is strong; togetherness is unstoppable. An individual’s self-expression is an essential contribution; our collective voices raised in all harmonies and discords is a song celestial.

I’m trying to remember this — that I really do believe this: that people who need people are, indeed, the luckiest people in the world.

And when it starts to seem like people are the problem, I will remind myself again that people are the solution. We the people are the solution.

Even the ones with whom I disagree. Even the ones who have done terrible things. Even the ones who have rigged the game for their own enrichment, and those who appear to be undermining things that I value, and the ones who are so misinformed that they can’t tell which way is up anymore.

I am committed to Bosque Center for Spiritual Living being a place where it’s safe to open our hearts and minds to each other, to our need for each other. Where we can be fully ourselves and where this liberty is contagious, where everyone feels more and more free to express themselves. Where “safe space” doesn’t mean unanimity — where we can be and should be different, where we delight in difference and even in disagreement. And when we need to rise to challenges — our own personal problems as well as matters that concern all of us — we do so with as big an idea of Togetherness and Inclusivity as we can muster.

We recognize that not only are we in this together, we are This together.

Whether we’re making music or preserving democracy in the United States — we, together, are what’s called for. We the people. The luckiest people in the world.

Happy Interdependence Day, my friends. Have a safe and healthy holiday. I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, July 7, 10am at q-Staff Theatre. Our new space is at 400 Broadway Blvd. SE, on the southeast corner of Broadway and Lead. There are dedicated spots right in front of the theater for those who need easy access. With plenty of parking up and down Broadway, as well as one block east on Arno. XO, Drew

©2024 Drew Groves

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