Oh my Gosh…does it feel like the world is just going crazy?  What’s happening?  At some point we have just got to sit back, take a look and say what’s this all about?

I don’t think it’s really all that complicated. The way I see it there are two things at work here:

1.) Ego. Part of being human means struggling with ego. Ego slips in and out of our lives. What fueled my ego when I was young, is not what fuels my ego now. The older I get the more aware I am of my ego. Managing ego requires high levels of self-awareness and internal dialogue. Egos, in order to sustain themselves, need to make themselves feel better than someone else. It’s just how they work. And so…the Ego picks on people. Makes fun of people. Demeans people. Separates people. Egos surround themselves with like-minded egos so they can feel more right…more justified in what they believe. Egos fuel themselves by “othering” people. Ego is fired up by other egos. Egos enjoy when other egos want to duel. Egos like to fight. Egos need to be right. Egos use comparison as a means to fulfillment. Being better than, richer than, more powerful than, stronger than, prettier than, more religious than, more educated than, more than matters to the ego. Inevitably, Unbridled ego hurts people.  Even kills them.

2.) The virtual world is really screwing us up. We don’t know how to engage with each other anymore. Small talk, a hi, how’s the weather, what’s up, how’s your day…these simple acts of “I see you” while standing in line at the convenience store have been replaced by engaging with our smartphones. News is no longer real. It’s entertainment. Entertainment is no longer entertainment, its reality shows. World leaders are no longer people, they are characters in a movie or comedians on Saturday Night Live. Violence is no longer frightening, it is gaming-fun. We’ve lost sight of what is real and what isn’t. We have forgotten that we exist. We no longer interact, engage, see the essence of a person. We see their persona, their avatar, their celebrity, their box, their facebook post, their instagram photograph, their comment, their car, their ass. We see these things because these are what come across our computer screen. We see these things instead of seeing the person standing next to us in line at the convenience store…the woman crying because her son was killed…the blood of those injured in school shootings, car accidents or war zones…the child dancing with the street performer. And inevitably We hurt people when we do not see them because they do not exist anymore. The image of them is all we see. We cannot touch their tears, their blood, their pain.

I am human. I have an ego. I have a smartphone. I am not perfect…and I do not claim to be.

For many years I struggled with an unbridled ego. (Heck…I’m human. I still struggle with it, but I try to keep tabs on it’s impact on my behavior and thoughts.) I measured my worth to this world through the eyes of my ego…appearance, education, achievements, relationships…there was always one better, one more, one additional thing I needed. No matter how much I tried to satisfy the insatiable ego, I could not. On July 6, 1993, at the age of 32, I hit bottom. It was messy. It was dark. It was scary.

And it changed my life forever.

Three years later, I started Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run was and continues to be, a safe place for girls and the people who love them, to come together; to laugh at ourselves; to be present with each other; to see, listen and love another; to get outside the ego’s need to box in by gender, race, economics or nation. Girls on the Run is a safe space for people to live into something richer, more meaningful, more real than our egos and the separation they create and to connect instead in that real, authentic, physical space. Since founding the program, nearly a million children have experienced the program. Clearly there is a yearning for what the program provides.

In January of 2014, I retired from Girls on the Run. After nine months of listening, researching, collecting data and writing I have founded “The Red Boot Coalition.”

The Red Boot Coalition addresses our unbridled ego, advanced technology use and the unwanted consequences of each, by gathering real, living, human beings together once a week in a variety of locations, to discuss and practice the Eleven Red Boot Steps of engagement. (See below.) The Eleven Steps serve as the framework and the context for our Red Boot Coalition meetings. These steps appeared one morning when a few of us were gathered at a local bagel and coffee shop. These steps have been taught and implemented by many of our world’s most effective and revered leaders. We’ve been practicing these steps for a while now and we can’t say enough about how a new way of seeing has cracked open for us. We are at peace.

We then take the positivity and skillsets we’ve obtained as a result of practicing these steps with each other, into all aspects of our lives; and by doing so create communities where people and leaders engage with respect, joy and compassion.

If you want to break the hold ego and the virtual world have on our culture, please consider joining me. This isn’t funny anymore. I’m not sure it was ever funny. People are getting hurt. The meek shall inherit the earth, but first, we’ve got to be meek in a loud and “it’s time for change” kind of way. Things are getting a little desperate here.

Start a meeting and let’s get to know each other again. If you are interested please visit the website www.theredbootcoalition.org.

red boot 11 steps