I read an article this week that began with the phrase, “The divided states of America.”
If you are foolish enough to read newspapers and follow the TV news, you would think this is accurate. Race-bating by our so-called political leaders coupled with the minions in the media have promoted and even encouraged this notion. From NFL players disrespecting the National Anthem to riots in major cities, this is not the greatest time period for our country.
But is it really THAT bad? In certain pockets, the answer is yes. Overall, the answer is a resounding NO.
Most of the 300 million Americans are treating each other with at least a modicum of respect. Many are going out of their way to be kind, caring and compassionate. Some are setting an example for the entire nation and you probably would never know it. Case in point.
Central Florida Systema is a Russian martial arts school in the sleepy little city of Winter Garden, Florida. Every Monday night, a group of us come together to learn and to teach this amazing martial art.
The group is as varied as you can get, from very dark skinned individuals to very light skin and a lot in between. Some are from Russia and the Ukraine and others are from Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania. Men and women, younger and older, shorter and taller and any other variable you can toss in the mix can be found.
Each one demonstrates respect for one another. Each one is more interested in the similarities than the differences. In fact, the differences are appreciated, not degraded.
No one plays the role of the victim or the bully. You will not hear windows cracking or people screaming in anger. Laughter more often than not fills the air.
The reason is simple – we have a common purpose. We want to become better people and we use the vehicle of martial arts to help us achieve this. It is difficult. We sweat, punch, kick and grapple our way to our goal. In the process, we learn to protect ourselves, not from an attacker but from the fears that we picked up along the path of life. The more the dark light of fear is removed, the more the bright light of love, kindness and compassion shines.
As individuals, we are deeply flawed yet when we come together as a group with a common purpose and a lot of energy, we are absolutely perfect.
May we all be blessed with a common purpose and the willingness to spend a lifetime learning and teaching it, just like Central Florida Systema members.