There was a psychopath loose in Colorado earlier this year. She was apparently fascinated by Columbine, armed, and planning to re-enact her obsession on an undisclosed school. That’s about as much as I know because I don’t allow myself to read even one sentence about people who commit, or plan, violence against children.
However, it was hard to ignore when you are a mom of school-aged children. It was all over media, social media, and running through my text chains and inboxes from other moms. Should we send our children to school or wait until it was sorted out?
There have been four school shootings in Colorado since Columbine and more attempted, so it’s a legitimate concern, even though the odds are relatively small. The thing about low odds is that when it comes to protecting your babies, is it only takes one incident to change a life, and family, forever.
My husband had this friend who was a big deal in the sports world. He used to reassure me (and others) about how safe the world was. He flew privately all over the planet, scouting athletes, conducting team operations, and living a big life. Like many others who travel a lot and engage worldwide, he was optimistic. He grew up a star on the basketball court and became a likeable guy with an enviable career. He translated his love of the game into a vast network of players, owners, front office, and media contacts coming to him for counsel. He drank good wine often, loved coffee, and kept in pretty good shape, despite his size, the pace of his life, the constant travel, and the demands of the job.
I only knew him through my husband and was intrigued by his range — it seemed he knew a little about everything, a lot about some things, was 2–3 connections from everyone, and on top of that, a good guy. He died last year, or maybe the year before, from what I think was a heart attack. The guy who always downplayed the odds of the crazy thing happening, had a freak crazy thing happen. He was too young, and my husband was heartbroken, as were many others.
I sat in on a presentation on Conscious Leadership and I’ve been thinking a lot about ego vs. consciousness and interconnectedness ever since. Ego is ignorance, greed, and hate; while consciousness is wisdom, love, and courage. Interconnectedness is the idea that all living things exist in relation to other living things, rather than existing independently. When you believe in interconnectedness, you believe your actions have a ripple effect, and you understand that what you say, do, and even think matters on a global scale.
What happened as a result of that psychopath? All Denver metro school districts canceled school that day. Some 500,000 students stayed home for the action, or the threat, of one woman. That’s a lot of parents and families who had to scramble for last-minute childcare, explain absences at work, or disappoint clients. Was it the right decision? I think so; many parents were considering keeping their children home anyway. Many conversations led up to that decision and many conversations resulted from it. Again, parents had to talk to children about safety, and again, schools had to schedule lockdown drives. Collectively, even though it was a one-off that’s over, the ripple effect remains.
There’s a precedent now, and parents throughout Colorado will still feel the energy of having to decide how to protect their children in a seemingly increasingly unsafe world.
The problem, as I’ve stated before, with collective consciousness believing that the world is increasingly dangerous is that if you’re fucked, what’s the point? That’s a little extreme, but you can see how that mentality played out over history, and you can see how it plays out in the most dangerous places on the planet right now. Where and when there is little to no hope, the value of life drops, civility is irrelevant, and regard for humanity dissolves.
I watched a chilling documentary on HBO a few years ago. Terror in Mumbai is the story of the November 2008 terrorist attack as told by the victims and the terrorists. It included telephone intercepts of the terrorist’s conversations with their handlers in Pakistan, CCTV footage from the luxury hotels that were attacked, and a tape of the interrogation of the sole surviving terrorist.
It was disturbing on many levels, but what stayed with me, was how these men chose to participate. In some cases, their families knew and even supported them to some degree. In the world they lived in, there was such overwhelming hopelessness and poverty, and such fierce idealism, it was a career option. I don’t know that world, but the idea that it exists at the same time, on the same planet, as my world gives me great pause. I don’t pretend to be particularly informed about global politics or war, but I do believe that American apathy and ignorance is part of the problem. Our comfort comes at the expense of others and there’s a ripple effect for that too.
I recently read a story recently about the Huawei Sanction, which bans US-based companies from doing business with the mobile phone giant moving forward. It’s led to Google revoking Huawei’s Android license, Intel saying it couldn’t sell laptop CPUs to them, and chip designer ARM announcing it couldn’t sell smartphone CPUs to them too — even though ARM is UK-based and technically beyond the reach of the embargo.
Huawei is on the Top 10 list of the most valuable technology companies by revenue, which includes Google, Intel, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and more. The embargo is positioned as part of an anti-spy sanction but is also likely about political power and the potential for 5G. I’m clearly in over my head on this issue too, but as I understand it, the ripple will likely come from what Huawei will do to survive, and what China will do in response.
It’s not just that Huawei’s 5G technology is far superior, it’s that almost every American tech company — Apple, Intel, Qualcomm, and Google— deeply relies on China being a consistent partner that can deliver staggering manufacturing scale. It’s not just that Chinese workers earn less than their American counterparts, it’s that it would take years for US companies to learn how to build with the same precision and scale, and they’d essentially be starting from scratch.
That’s interconnectedness my friends, and it’s undeniable everywhere, in every country and every industry. It’s a sign of our life and times, and part of our reality, no matter what you want to believe. Raising our consciousness goes beyond buying cage-free eggs, ethically-sourced and conflict-free diamonds, and discovering the shockingly high costs of disposable fashion. In this case, Huawei is too big to fail, and we’ve seen that movie too, haven’t we?
I’m the last person to become a conspiracy theorist, but I am realistic about the magnitude of the issues that face politicians today, and I’m deeply concerned about the quality of politician we are electing. Raise your hand if you feel like they, politicians at large, are smart enough to take this stuff on at the local, state, national, or global level? Yeah, me neither. Our polarization weakens our foreign policy status too.
And, as we watch it play out in elections across the planet, when we get bogged down by the complexity and immensity of our problems, we increasingly turn to the quick fixes, which, unfortunately for history and for modern life, means gravitating to the assholes in the room with the loudest voices and the most grandiose promises. Decisiveness and simplistic narratives appeal to us when we feel scared and face uncertainty, but that rarely translates to good leadership.
Total sidebar: That’s why I find it infuriating that the issues this country spins its wheels on are abortion, guns, healthcare, climate change, and taxes. In my mind, these are easy wins. Let’s fix them and move on, clearing up the bandwidth to tackle the tough stuff. Don’t get an abortion if you don’t want one, but it’s none of your business if your neighbor does. You can keep your guns, but there will be immense penalties if your weapons are used to commit a crime. Everyone gets access to low-cost healthcare because it’s time for a new American experiment in compassion. Oh, and of course the rich must pay more for the privilege of being rich. They didn’t get wealthy alone, did they? Interconnectedness. And if climate change isn’t the most obvious example of interconnectedness, I don’t know what is. This is a two-parter: Dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and curb consumption. It has to happen at the macro and micro levels (just like everything else btw).
Now I know, I lost a lot of you there. Take a deep breath, agree to disagree, and carry on. The point is not to agree or to come to a consensus. The point is to contemplate what could happen if we let go of our egos and stopped choosing, stopped legislating, and stopped voting for our comfort, safety, stability, and control (which are all ego-based pursuits anyway) and instead considered the bigger picture, higher consciousness, and the ripple effect? What if we embraced the idea that we are all interconnected, and that our words, thoughts, and actions matter on a global scale?
I’m not suggesting we vote against our self-interests but broaden our perspective beyond the end of our noses. Love is inclusive. Wisdom knows that our true nature is kindness and compassion. Courage is committing even when we fear failure, caring even when we fear rejection, speaking up even when we fear humiliation.
Fear is real and these problems are breathtaking in scope. Fear feeds ignorance, greed, and hate, but we can’t allow it to inform policies, politics, or behavior. We must feel the fear, face the fear, and move towards it, then choose interconnectedness. All of us, 100% of humanity, and everything living on the entire planet, depends on it.