We have a commitment issue

It’s time to make a commitment to one another: To our neighbors; to our coworkers; to the stranger on the sidewalk and the person with an opposing political party sign in their yard; even the “friend” on Facebook or Twitter who can only argue and disagree. 

Commitment means dedication, loyalty, and devotion. A commitment is an agreement, a contract, a responsibility, and a promise. A commitment binds us by pledge or duty. Commitment is complex, multidimensional and not easily defined because it is broad and all encompassing, while being focused and defined. 

I think we have a commitment issue in America.

Vector vintage frame with patterned angles on a black background

Let’s think of our commitment to others as we do a love relationship. 

We commit ourselves to our spouse, our partner, our companion because we are in love. Not just the romantic, swept off our feet love, but the deep caring and comfort kind of love that we feel when we realize that we fit together and want to be with the other person and share the mundane aspects of our lives with them. Or perhaps it’s the love we feel when someone stirs our soul and pulls us out of our safety net. When we enter into a commitment with another, we want to explore our life and the world with this person, which means we will encounter bumps in the journey, and challenges. We will not always agree. We must compromise and communicate, we must dialogue and find either common ground or a way to hold space for the person we love while they maneuver through their own psychic and emotional stuff,  and we do the same. There will be misunderstanding. When we enter into a relationship and begin to mutually exchange ideas, what we are sharing is our own perspective, our own stuff, our ancestry, our experiences, our perceptions. They will not align at all times with the one we love, and this is where disagreements and misunderstanding come in to play. But we learn in relationship that we must listen fully with our hearts open with the intention to hear the other person. Sometimes, we bite our tongue and do not reply. This is commitment.

Commitment in relationship invites us to love and care for someone else and in turn to know that the other person is doing the same for me.

When we start a new job, we commit to showing up and doing our best work everyday and our employer commits to paying us and respecting us for what we do. 

In helping to define commitment, here are some things a commitment is not: It is not a power play; it is not a war or a battle; it is not an entitlement; it is not easy.

How do we know? Because we are living through a worldwide plague known as Covid-19. A novel coronavirus that can be mild for some and deadly to others. Yet people continue to argue about wearing a mask saying it violates their freedoms. Guess what? So does marriage. When you make a commitment to someone you give up some of your freedoms because you are now a team, a partnership, a couple. You can’t just spend as much money as you want. You can’t go out every night with your buddies. You are committed. You give up some freedoms for companionship and love. We need more commitment.

We need to make a commitment to one another to wear a mask when out in public. To wear it properly, i.e., not below your nose, not a mask that is mesh, not one that sticks out a fingers width from your nose, not one that falls down all the time. When I wear a mask I am making a commitment to my friends, my family, the customers I serve to keep my droplets from spreading as much as possible. I commit to staying six-feet apart and not hugging people. (Very hard for me as I’m a hugger.) I commit to wash my hands and sanitize them if I touch my mask, or money, or a surface touched by others. In return, I am asking you to make the same commitment to me: wear a mask to keep your droplets away from me and the guy on the bus, the clerk at the gas station. If everyone would make a commitment to one another, we might get through this winter season without the coming spike in Covid-19 infections so many predict. If we had done this from the start, we might be doing better than we are now.

In my small, rural town we had eight cases of Covid-19 in April and May. We stayed at that small number for more than a month. No new cases. And then it was Memorial Day, and things opened up, and people began traveling. Our town, since then, has been packed with visitors, second homeowners, vacation renters who have come and stayed and others who just keep coming in wave after wave of travelers. Restaurants and grocery stores are open. Musicians play on patios and we sit mask-less with one another visiting, eating, and drinking. And guess what? The numbers keep rising. At last count we had 62 local resident cases and 55 non-resident cases. Thirty-six locals have recovered, but 26 are still fighting the virus. This in a town with a tiny hospital and only a few beds and three ventilators. I can’t help but wonder if we had made the commitment to keep our town protected by requiring everyone to wear masks, and if we had been diligent about that commitment to one another, would we have so many cases? If our friends who are struggling to recover from the virus (in spite of having no pre-existing conditions) would have ever caught it in the first place.

Yes, most people will survive Covid-19, but they may have lots of physical problems and huge medical bills. And that is not okay with me. Why can’t we just commit to take care of one another? To wear a mask and social distance, to wash our hands, and if we feel sick, to stay home and not share our sniffles, fever’s, and coughs with others? Is that really so hard?

But let’s go a step further. Let’s make a deeper commitment to one another. Let’s commit to not engaging on social media in arguments. Read. Listen. Sit with the words of someone else. Let them share what they believe. We don’t have to believe the same thing, but we can be respectful of one another. We can love and care for that person, even if we are polar opposites. It’s ok to not talk politics if you are in a marriage and have differing political views. Many people make it work, as long as one person is not domineering and the other just remains quiet to keep the peace. Can we commit to stop bullying one another and calling each other names? Would you really call your neighbor a libtard to his face? Would you tell your uncle he is an idiot for only listening to Rush Limbaugh? Do you think your liberal cousin is evil? Do you believe your conservative sister is a white supremacist? Remember when you are posting these comments that someone you love is reading and taking your words to heart. 

The internet and Social media have devolved us into hateful, inconsiderate, and argumentative beings. No marriage or relationship can survive this vitriol and anger. We need some counseling. We need some help, and we need to re-commit ourselves to doing better and being better human beings.

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