So… State of the Union.
This is what I will say, and it’s all I will say: get to know your neighbors.
If the rule of internet jerkiness has taught me anything, it’s that anonymity breeds all sorts of nastiness. People feel like they can say or do anything when anaonymous, as online. And in contrast, growing up in a tiny town taught me that living under a microscope causes you to live a little cleaner, speak a little softer, and basically be more responsible for your own actions.
So. If we know the people we live around, and then as a whole we know the next neighborhood as our town-mates, and the next town as our local folks “just like us” and so on, rippling outward, the issues we start to think and act about become so much more personal. Voting on a numeric bill that increases taxes in schools you don’t attend becomes an issue that helps your neighbor’s kid get a better education. You’ve seen that kid. He needs all the help he can get. Or maybe there was that time he came and mowed your yard for you. Maybe he’s a hard worker and could use that extra chance to go to college or otherwise better himself.
How about homelessness? Ugly, ain’t it. Let’s pass a legislation on panhandling downtown. Or wait. What if you actually meet Lester? What if you talk with him and find out how he lost his home, where he came from, and basically that his dream in life is to hold down a job where he could talk to people all day? Won’t that get you further, and help Lester, more than passing a faceless bill or vote on some sort of rule against his presence?
I don’t know that I fit into any one political school. I just know that humans have worth and getting to know them is a worthy use of time. I also know that once you get to know someone, you have a harder time telling them that you can’t give them a dollar. In fact, don’t give them a dollar. Give them the same help you’d give a neighbor.
Get to know your neighbors. Just start there. You don’t even have to like them, just realize that you at least have something in common, even if it’s only a property line.
Get to know your neighbors.
What’s this got to do with the President and his speech? Only that people don’t talk anymore. People don’t genuinely care about the well-being of other people, even ones they live most closely with. Any other problems we face, or create, can be pared down if we just sit down and be humans together.