What Unites Us?

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, photoshops an image in questioning what unites us.Many different things bring people together. Like love. Ice cream. Music. Dancing. A child dying. A rescue. Hurricanes that devastate communities. Shootings. Lost dogs. Laughing babies. Peace marches. Funerals. Horrible events when the world suddenly stops, like when the World Trade Towers collapsed. Like during the great New York City blackout of 1965.

The power went out 43 years ago, on Tuesday, November 9,  at 5:30pm as people were coming home from work and thinking about dinner. Just a kid at the time, I was living in the Long Island suburbs. What I remember most about the blackout was how all the neighbors gathered in the darkening street. Old and young, Catholics and Jews, the Irish and the Italians, the kids who went to parochial school and those in public schools, the people who lived in the big fancy houses and the ones from the dingy dilapidated ones, those who had voted Republican the week before and the ones who voted Democrat, the couple with the funny name who barely spoke English, the friendly guy with candy in his pockets who they called “Ree-tar-dead,” the girls who were popular and us girls who were not and the boys who teased us all, our fathers and mothers, and even the lady who had not left her home since her husband died—they all came out of their houses shocked, chatting up a storm, and watching the stars and full moon rising in the otherwise darkened sky. No one knew how far the dark stretched, or when—or if— the lights would ever come back on. But I felt safe, standing together with the whole neighborhood.

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about categorizing friends. Later, when I thought about it, I wanted to curl up in a dark corner and disappear. It sounded like I was splitting the people I care about into opposing teams. I don’t want to highlight things that separate us. We don’t need anything else to split us apart theses days. Globally, and as a nation, and even in our own communities and households, we are so divided.

It’s time to focus on what unites us. The things we have in common, our shared hopes and dreams. We should be recognizing the things that bring us all together. In peace. In kindness. And in good health and happiness. We all need to feel safe together.

What unites us?

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14 thoughts on “What Unites Us?

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I remember a big blackout in Ithaca around that time. I remember the dorm where I lived and how the students stood outside in the streets hoping classes would be canceled. I know where I was and what street we stood on, but I don’t know what happened to those classes. Many things unite us still and I feel there’s a shift in the us vs. them attitude. The election offered hope for a more inclusive world.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      This past election, Elaine? Hmmmmmm. I don’t know about that. I wonder if shootings or the horrible fires in California bring about unification of people? What is it that can unite us for even a brief period of time? Still working on that one.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank YOU, Lynne. Feels good to hear I put out an important message. Great to see Marika’s name in print too. Still wondering how on earth, and what it will take, to unite us as a country. Looking less and less likely. Yeesh! Do you believe we put up with all this? Wishing for good news.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Janet. I wonder how the good ole USA looks to you now, from across the sea. You must feel so relieved that you escaped this craziness.

      Reply
      1. Janet Hart

        Ha. Well it looks just awful, horrifying I tell you…except when I focus on what unites us!! Plus all the rocks being upturned, new focus on evil in our midst so that something can be done, exciting new voices and faces of resistance entering the arena which would never have happened without Ugly, all the progressive media still hanging in in spite of it all (my newsfeed gets inundated) and what all the future might hold. That said, no plans to return! By the way, I just betcha Marika would’ve run for office–from what I know of her through you. Now there’s a cheerful thought!! Big hugs!

        Reply
        1. Janet Hart

          PS, and cheerful, why is that? ;=) Because her energy is being mirrored all over the place, throughout the land! Yay

          Reply
        2. Robin Botie Post author

          Yow, Janet. I’m gonna skip over all the horrifying awful-looking stuff you mentioned, as well as Mr Ugly, and hang onto to the idea of Marika running for office, which makes me smile because I think that could’ve been right. And it only makes me more cheerful than I was, and I was very uncharacteristically cheerful, so thank you for that. I don’t blame you for not returning, especially now. I keep saying it cannot get worse. But. (Gotta say — your Pres is adorable).

          Reply
  2. Lucy Bergstrom

    Hi Robin,
    I think 1965 was 53 years ago…wow. I didn’t experience that blackout but it sounds awesome. We need to get shaken out of our ruts!
    We are all human beings and want the best for our children, our communities. I think there is much more that unites us than divides us, even though we think we are opponents in politics, on moral issues and on value judgements. I would wish for the media that they would return to reporting facts and not making value judgements, not telling us what to think or how to feel. There are many good journalists who would like nothing more. I hope we will see a return to sanity and unity. We will then be the United States, not the Divided States.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yeah, Lucy, it’s pretty depressing here, seeing it all. No end in sight. We do need to get shaken out of our ruts – for sure – on several fronts. I kinda like seeing the judgments as they show the conscience of the media. It gives me relief, sometimes, that those folks on the screen feel like I do. I go to the media to seek out peeps like Rachel Maddow, just to hear something that makes sense of all that’s going on. I don’t know. But hearing “53 years ago” is definitely rattling enough.

      Reply
  3. Norman Wacks

    Well, that photo certainly brings me back – when do think that was? Around 1955? I’m retiring in two weeks. So much in between! Hope you are well. Happy Thanksgiving ….. soon. Norm

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Norman. When I decided to use that photo, I didn’t count on you showing up, knowing it was taken over a decade earlier than the great blackout. I think you are probably the one who gave me that photo. I was looking for a scene with people in it and couldn’t find any other. So – yes, it was probably 1955. And I tried to disguise it so it wouldn’t be obvious. I don’t even know if my mom recognized it. I haven’t been able to keep much contact with her as she cannot hear me over the phone, and seems to be ignoring the emails I send. She’s not doing so well these days. Well, better now that she has aides around helping. I’m looking forward to visiting her in a few weeks. Hey, Happy Thanksgiving to you and Carin. And congratulations on retirement. Yay!!! I hope you will love it. Maybe now that you’re retired you’ll be able to travel to Ithaca. I promise I will buy the dinner out at the nice restaurant this time. Hugs!

      Reply

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