With love to my American body.
Can we love ourselves, despite a mass shooting in Las Vegas, where 59 people died and over 500 people were injured?
Can we love ourselves, despite a mass shooting in Orlando, where 49 people died?
Can we love our collective selves, despite being a divided nation, despite taking a knee or standing?
Can we transcend the self-loathing, disgust, mistrust, shame, and horror of us?
It seems to me like the United States of America can die slowly of 10,000 paper cuts or it can stop cutting itself to pieces. And by “itself,” I mean each of its 326 million residents, whether we agree with each other or not, whether we find each other loathsome or not, whether we look down on each other, or not.
Can we stop destroying our selves and rebuild our experience into something that feels collectively inspirational and loving? What would it take?
I am not sure. But, increasingly, it seems to me that we are one organism—whether we like it or not. Whether we identify with that idea or not. We each are individual cells in one body—a body which, over time has grown to hate itself.
Trump? He is just another cell in our common body, the same body you share with me, with Hillary Clinton, with Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, Bernie Sanders, and Steve Bannon. We only exist because the other cells exist.
However, it’s like a psychological cancer has begun to eat away at our societal body, causing us to attack and destroy each other in total confidence that “we” are right and “they” (the other vital organs in our collective body) are wrong.
Not one of us is vindicated. Although many (probably most) will think we are. Many will think we have nothing to do with the disease eating away at our society. We will remain convinced that we are separate, unto ourselves, in a delusional sanctity. We will think if we can only destroy the parts of the body we don’t like, we would be fine. We will be convinced that the leg can exist without the heart and the brain can exist without the lung.
But there are some healthy individual cells in here. It is possible. It is possible there are a few of us who don’t lift a finger to point at others and would not attack our own collective body, whether by judgmental thought, word, or deed. I hope there are enough of us like that, so that this body of ours is not too sick to recover.
Sometimes, I look into the mirror at this body I share with all of you, and I struggle to love all of us—the cellulite, the wrinkles, and the scars. But, sometimes, I truly do love this body of ours.
I love my tiny corner of the right, upper spleen, with my little community of cells made up of friends and family. I also love the cells farther away in parts of the body that are still a mystery to me because I don’t belong there. I love the whole of us, warts and all, tragedy and all, embarrassing history and all.
Increasingly, I feel we are connected far more than we comprehend. I wonder if the cells in my individual body realize that they live in a system of many cells. Are there a few cells here and there inside of me beginning to question how they relate to one another? Or do they already know?
Do the planets in our solar system know they are in a system? Do we, as individuals, truly understand we are tiny pieces of that same solar system?
If we can grasp that, we also can grasp that we, as a species, are like the many leaves on a tree, tentacles on an octopus, eyes on a spider, or feathers on a wing. If enough of us realize this, then maybe, collectively, we can fly.
I still have hope. But I am just one tiny cell in your spleen.
Author: Lee Sears
Image: Courtney Hedger / Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron