Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

The shortcut isn’t worth it

If I am happy. If I am thriving, or at peace, what’s the point if it’s just me? What’s the point if my family or my homies aren’t there with me? Or if my neighbors aren’t there, either, in that state of peace and contentment? 

How can I really be satisfied if I’ve left someone behind? On the contrary, it eats at me to see other people, my people, suffer. That feeling, however, brings with it a ton of effort, stress, and responsibility.

That belief requires explanation and defense, but for now, I’ll just own it as my own feeling. 

Admittedly, there is a shortcut. A shortcut to avoid the feeling of guilt and ownership when we’ve made it to a state of peace and our people haven’t. A shortcut around the giving of ourselves to others. A bypass of the sacrifice and hard work for the community. A secret passage that circumvents our responsibility to the world around us. 

That shortcut? Making the tribe around us smaller. Reducing the people we expose ourselves to, and cutting out those that require more from us. Favoring the folks that make us comfortable, cool, and wealthy, and avoiding the others. 

The shortcut is ignorance and exclusion. And that may make our lives easier for awhile because it reduces who and what we are responsible for. But in the long run it costs us love, meaning, and perhaps a bit of our souls. Ignorance and exclusion may shelter us from doing difficult deeds and having difficult feelings, but is that really a life worth living?

I’m not yet at a point where my heart is big enough to wrap it around the whole world. And I’m not suggesting we’re all failures if we don’t become brothers of all humanity.

But our choice is if our ethos will be to expand our hearts wider or close them off. Over the course of a lifetime, that choice makes a very big difference in what we, and our world, become.