With all the daily propaganda from the top down that we need to close our borders, keep immigrants and refugees out because they are terrorists, we are blinded to the real threat.

This country – like almost every country in the world – has been attacked by terrorists from without and within.

However, they are not the biggest problem. We are.

Today’s culture of rudeness, intolerance, bullying, racism, and lies – again from the top down – have turned us against each other in a way that is truly frightening.

The almost daily mass shootings*, white supremacist rallies, name calling Tweets … all do more damage than actual terrorists.

*According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 307 mass shooting incidents in the United States have occurred as of Nov. 5, up 27 from one month ago.

Comparatively, 2016 saw a total of 483 mass shootings. The FBI defines a “mass killing” as the killing of three or more people in a public place, but the federal agency also defines a “mass murderer” as someone who has killed four or more people in the same location.

Even on a local level people speak disparagingly of others. One organization against another. One business puts down another. It is all a kind of hate speech without the intensity of actual hate.

Instead of taking the “higher road,” we choose to be negative.

It is this local level way of treating each other that is the real problem. It’s as though everyone has been given license to say whatever they want regardless of the hurt, no matter how unconstructive such negativity is.

And every one of us is guilty of this.

If we continue in this vein, we may very well implode.

Throughout history, grassroots efforts have had huge impact.

Change in how we treat each other needs to start at the bottom and ignore the infantile and divisive rhetoric from the top.

We need first to recognize our shortcomings and then be conscious of how we sound, how others hear us and how we can be better.

We can all be better.

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