By: Butch Swank
Pride. Pride in your family. Pride in your work. Pride in your community. Pride in your accomplishments. Pride in your struggles. Joy. Fellowship. Laughter. Not taking yourself too seriously. Lending a hand. Checking in on neighbors. Reconnecting with old friends. Going to church. Taking a long walk. Working out. Smiling. I can’t help but see and feel our society has lost sight of some very important things. As a result, a great number of people are walking around feeling confused, rudderless, and anxious.
Around 2016, somehow, someway, our media realized that they were in a fight for survival. Their money supply, which is us, had unprecedented access to information, and the TV and newspaper business models were failing. Then someone had a remarkable insight: We’re losing ALL of our customers, and something must be done. The clever people in management decided that keeping 50% of customers is far better than losing all of them. So, they decided to pick teams. Some went to the Left, and some went to the Right. It was a new business model of feeding the customer a steady diet of how awful the other side is and how 100% virtuous their side is. After all, it is basic human nature to want to be right and feel validated. By no longer just reporting the news, these media institutions, if I am being charitable, unknowingly began to split apart America.
Let’s think about it for a second. How can you feel good about things if you know darn well that half of your fellow Americans are despicable people? One side calls the other communists, and the other thinks having an American flag in your yard is flat-out evil. Well, I’ve got news for everyone, and it’s particularly pointed at the most devout haters of the other side. We have far, far, far more in common with each other than your preferred media outlets encourage you to believe. If you have read any of my other articles you know I am a numbers guy. This number has zero basis in scientific research and is purely a gut number, but here it is: 90%. That is how much we have in common. We’ve all been very capably convinced it’s the other way around. I use Lehigh Acres as an example, but this is true all throughout America. Lehigh makes it easy as an example because we already have such a diverse population. Our friends and neighbors come from all over the place. Again, somehow, someway, we all get along, look after each other, and make this a truly great place to live. However, when you get home and turn on the TV or check the news on your phone, all you see is how bad the “other side” is. It’s very tough to reconcile your day-to-day positive experiences with the steady drumbeat from the media on how bad things are out there.
So, my unsolicited advice is to really begin to study your news. Are they giving you information, or are they telling you how to think? Are they always on one “side” and never report other perspectives? Do they see failures on the other side and unabashedly celebrate? (That’s the one that gets me the most) When Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Rush Limbaugh died, we all saw how some people were genuinely celebrating this news. How have we gotten to the point where we celebrate the death of a fellow American? I will tell you when you’ve been convinced the “other side” is evil, then one less of them is cause to rejoice. This is not a sustainable path we’re on, and I implore all sides to begin looking for all the things we do have in common and hold dear. You will be surprised how easily you connect with others you recently thought were basically alien to you. An added benefit is that this confused and rudderless feeling will dissolve. Having pride in yourself and your community does wonders for your heart and soul. It’s also remarkable how much more you can get done by focusing on yourself and what’s around you. Is it really a good use of your time to continuously obsess over politics? It again will be remarkable how much more time you can invest in your day when you minimize the deliberately dividing nature of our current media. After all, we live in the greatest country and society that has ever graced this beautiful planet. The founders rightly used the words “a more perfect union.” That means America is not perfect. Nothing at all, except perhaps my meatballs and sauce recipe, is perfect. So, if we all accept that our amazing society is a work in progress and we all agree to help pitch in to make it better from our day-to-day actions, I see a bright shiny future that will make us ALL proud.
Of course, I am a businessman, and my personality cannot let this article purely be about social commentary. I’m only adding this because I have some exciting news to share. Last year, the organization I formed with Katrina Salokar and Jesse Nadell, the Southwest Florida Business Alliance, has had a string of successes. Our membership has grown to include many successful and influential business leaders. So, I have taken it to heart to make sure the speakers for our quarterly meetings are top-notch. The ink is not dry, and this may not pan out, but it looks quite likely that the billionaire founder of OPI Nails, George Schaeffer, will be the keynote speaker at our next meeting. It’s premature, and I should not be writing this unless it was really rock-solid. However, the fact that this is even a possibility shows just how impactful our organization has become in a short time and how much growth and interest the outside world has in our community. Things are continuing to get better and better in Lehigh Acres, which is something we can ALL be proud of.