No, the Crowne Plaza is NOT on fire

NOTE: the Crowne Plaza is NOT on fire. This whole incident occurred about an hour and a half ago.

From the lobby of the Crowne Plaza, downtown Kansas City around 6:10 PM.

I was taking a nap and awoke to the sound of the fire alarm going off on our floor in our hotel. I grabbed my backpack and wallet and went down the stairs to the front desk. The power is out on our floor (and several others) and the fire department is here investigating.

There are two things about this I find horrifying: 1) No one was taking the stairs with me–aren’t you supposed to take the stairs when the fire alarm goes off? and 2) I kept cracking open the door at various floors listening for gunfire.

That’s what fire alarms make me think of now—a trap to make people rush out from wherever they are so they can be picked off. Because that has been the case of late, I made sure to end up outside on the street so I could get away.

This is NOT MY AMERICA. What have we become that regular citizens like me are afraid of being shot while fleeing perceived danger? I can be a bit of a worrier, sure, and admittedly I WAS awoken from a deep sleep and can attribute some confusion to that. But this goes beyond “regular” worry.

This harkens me back to the bad old days of 7th grade when, thanks to my bully of a World Geography teacher who let us throw darts at pictures of the Ayatollah if we were “good” and literally threw a rowdy kid and his desk outside in the hall, we all feared the faraway “Great Satan” and the red button that would be pushed and the nuclear warheads that would come and destroy us all.

Except now the Great Satan is here.

And we have a bully in charge who makes us so afraid of the “other” that we start to fear those near AND far: our neighbors who are just “different” enough that we distrust them, fellow citizens who will let political differences pull a trigger of hate, refugees who are supposedly coming to take our jobs and our lives.

So. Much. Fear.

We all know where that leads. Yoda told us.

Please, I beg you. Take a moment today and everyday to really talk to people. Get over differences and accept that diversity is ok. In, fact it’s desirable. Paper chain people are boring and are NOT what makes our country great. They only hold hands because they’re forced to. How great is it when people of various backgrounds hold one another up because they CHOOSE to?!?!?

That is my America: a land of diverse, divergent thinkers all moving along toward a goal together. We don’t agree on the exact way to get there but eventually, because of compromise and thoughtful discussion, we make it. We grab each other’s hands and pull each other along.

No self-important pulling up of personal bootstraps. That’s a load of crap anyway. No one does anything in a vacuum.

Helping hands.

Grab a hand. And a coffee. Or a beer. Or a boba tea even though those tapioca beads are so gross. Talk. Listen. Learn. Grow.

Repeat.

Forever.

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