“The things that are invisible are the most important things.”
(Rapper, Jay-Z as told to David Letterman)
The things that are invisible are the most important things: Love, fear, hope. Yet society seems to base everything on the most visible things: Race and ethnicity, gender, nationality. (Interestingly uncontrollable things — we can’t help what we were born or where.)
We all want the same things for our children. (We all know that!) Problem is that some days we want the same exact thing for our children, literally… the same, exact thing: THAT piece of land, that job, that money, those resources. We want them for the people we love and hope will succeed, and fear will “have not.”
And at the end of those days, we can’t think about the important invisible things driving the “other” people. This would make it too hard for us to go after what we want and need. This problem is ancient.
Anyway, I thought Jay-Z’s simple sentence was beautiful. As a rap artist, he understands the power of words.
Right now, he would probably even say, “Word!” — which means, “Yes… that’s very true!” (for those of us over 40. And never you mind how far over 40!)
Lately, I see a lot of people talking about words — talking about talking.
“Why are there opinion columns in the town newspaper?”
Well, because the things that are visible are all too often too visible and the most important things, the invisible ones we all feel, are all too often left out; left out of the national conversation; hidden from the international dialog.
I love social media, however I also like opining in good old-fashioned print, because there are no algorithms that send me straight to the people who already think like I do, which contributes to the polarization of our society.
Also, there’s nothing like getting “blocked” in the middle of a debate online when someone has no rebuttal to your argument. (Always reminds me of those three monkeys with their hands over the eyes, ears and mouth.)
“Can we talk?” they often say on my favorite TV show (The Flash!), and it used to bug me (after all, what I really want to see is some super-hero-ing.) But after awhile, I realized I envied the maturity of the characters.
Honest discourse can be painful, but without pain, there is no growth.
One of my dearest friends in the world is a white, upper middle class, staunchly Republican, conservative, devoutly Catholic, native of Long Island. I… am none of those things! If anything, I’m kind of the opposite of all of those things. But for some 30 years, our eyes have been fixed on the invisible in each other; the most important things that drive each of us: Love, fear, hope. Some might say, Faith, Hope, Love.
Those invisible things are so beautiful that all the visible things pale in comparison. And we can discuss them respectfully, in light of each other’s humanity.