I really did not think I would ever be leading a blog with shithole in the title.
Yet here we are. It is 2018 and I guess we are kicking this year off in a way that makes us all scratch our heads. From Logan Paul, to #TimesUp, to now … well … shitholes.
I rarely publicly venture into the quagmire of the current political climate, even more so from my business front. However, today I really want to take a moment and talk to all of us, including me. I want give some perspective and also some tools you implement in your circle of influence that I hope will create even just a small change.
While those close to know me know just how closely I follow both sides of the political divide, they also know I always try and understand why people believe what they do, even if in my core I could not follow the same belief. I also really try and give people thoughts and tools that allow them to create a change that brings people away from the divide rather than push them further from it. It is easy to be loud and demeaning when you feel like you have the moral high ground, you will always have the support of many others. More often than not it, it is true. I went from a private school in 8th grade with 50 classmates to a very integrated public high school with almost 500 classmates, of which only rough 250 graduated. My varsity soccer team started 11 guys. In just these 11 we had Hispanic, Vietnamese, Korean, African American and a few white guys from EVERY economic background. I tell you this because I know that from my personal first-hand experience that racism is very much alive today. Here is this kicker for me though, if all we do is just call out racism, we will never get past it. Trying to yell louder than racists does not seem to be working. We do not need more people to just put other people into a metaphorical box just so we can yell at them.
With this thought fresh on your mind I want to talk about President Trump’s sanctimonious statement on multiple countries, including Haiti, being a shithole. If your newsfeed/facebook/twitter/Instagram look anything like mine, there is no shortage of people shouting from the rooftops at how just plain ignorant Trump’s statement is. There also should be some people trying to defend the statement or spin it in a different way, the most common being “Well, Trump is not factually wrong about Haiti” and then search google for the worst of the worst photo. What there is a barren wasteland of though is people offering any perspective on how to bridge this gap with people or better yet, help the country and the people of Haiti.
So here are my thoughts from a person who has personally walked the streets of Haiti and hopefully a few people out there can help their neighbor, help their fellow human 1000s of miles away and maybe even help themselves a little.
Go gain it people. Go travel. Go meet people who do not speak your language … hell, you can do that without even leaving your city. Sit next to person who is praying to different god than yours. Eat a food you can’t pronounce. Bonus points if you do this alone. Bring a camera and point at everyone and everything that is not you. Share your experiences, blog, write and inspire others to do the same. Focus all that anger and desire to call out the wrongs and spend that emotional energy on bridging the gap to the person who needs it. Trust me, there will be plenty of other people ready to pick up the torches and still yell at the racists/bigots/fascists.
It is really easy for a person who wakes every morning in Beverly Hills or Martha’s Vineyard to look online at what is happening to Flint, Michigan and call it a shithole. Likewise it easy for a person who only knows Flint Michigan to look online at Cité Soleil in Haiti and call it a shithole. Seriously, people within the country of Haiti of itself can do this. Just compare where the cruise ships dock on the north coast resorts of Haiti to the brutal truth of the slums of Port-au-Prince.
Something happens when you put yourself next to the people of this earth we all share. It is something that can not replicated and it can barely be explained. I truly believe Mark Twain said it best:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. ~ Mark Twain
I did some online searching and from what I can tell, Trump has not set feet into Haiti the country itself. I really wonder what his perspective would be if he walked the same streets I have. I do know this, it in no way could have made his personal view any more worse than it was. I wish I could say traveling and being immersing yourself in these places is the cure all. It is not. We do live in the selfie generation and there are plenty of examples where people travel solely to get “that” selfie. Sure it will make you feel better to put them in that box and call them out, but here are were again. Do not take that bait, find someone you can encourage rather than the easy target and find someone to yell at.
I am sure someone of you out there right are feeling “pushed’ to one side of the divide because of my words. You probably, actually almost for sure, have a well thought out retort to my thinking. You have a personal experience that forces you to scream in anger when you perceive an injustice. I hear you. In almost every single instance I will even agree with you. I am just simply asking you, yes you, to go bridge the gap with someone and share what you have learned with the people who are still yelling from their little corner of the earth.