After hearing from several of you who feel anxious, worried, scared, sad, hopeless in these now uncertain times, I thought maybe I would write you all some encouraging words. For you and for me, as well. Because I need to hear it too. More than hearing it, though, I need to BELIEVE it. Even more than believing it, I need to LIVE it. So here’s what…
What I know about human beings is we are a pretty fragile lot. We don’t like change, and we get all squirmy when someone challenges or even criticizes our principled views. People who aren’t like us make us feel apprehensive, unsure. And when we are apprehensive and unsure we feel UNCOMFORTABLE. Generally speaking, we either go into “fight” or “flight” mode, but honestly, neither of these choices is particularly beneficial to anyone.
So fight mode. You guys!! All you need to do is log into any of the variety of social media outlets, and folks, you are going to witness fight mode. Woweee!! There are a lot of people fighting out there. Even on my Instagram feed–I’m on mostly for the beautiful travel photos which inspire me to continue purchasing airline tickets to exotic locale– it’s usually fairly benign, no one really “fighting” there. But every once in a while, I’ll see a post, and then I do the unthinkable…I read the comments. *GASP* I know what you are thinking: Lisa, why do you do that? Never, EVER, ever, EVER read the comments. Just don’t do it. I have a confession: I have maybe even commented on a total stranger’s comment. Writing this sounds completely absurd, and I felt a little ridiculous after my commenting spree (yeah, I did it more than once). And I thought to myself…what exactly did that accomplish? I got to rant a little at a COMPLETE stranger and so what?? I would never, EVER do that in public. Like think about this. Here I am in Starbucks, and I overhear something someone says, and I march myself up to him and say: “Oh yeah, let me tell you what I think about THAT, bub.” WHO does that? No one–well maybe crazy people. Yet every day I see people doing that very thing on social media. And who are we kidding here? Like some rando person is even going to listen to our commenting. At the very least we might really piss them off, and then we’ve got some ensuing battle on our hands. At the worst, we’ve become the trolls who we all claim to hate. So friends, I stopped my trolling. I just stopped. It made me feel angry, frustrated, bitter…and I am not that person. I REFUSE to be that person. So do yourself a favor, don’t read the comments. And please, oh please, take a break from social media. Go outside and take a walk. Go to your favorite coffee shop and have a coffee. Read a good book. Have a FACE to FACE conversation with a good friend. Spend time with your kids. Go get a pedicure. Do anything that makes you happy and frees your mind from the chains of discord on social media.
Flight mode. This is trickier. It’s difficult for me to discuss this because it requires discussing the labels we place on people, and if you know me at all, you know that I hate labels. But we are all guilty of labeling each other. What this labeling allows us to do, however, is kind of catalog people. And like with any catalog, we can thumb through its pages and choose what we like, and disregard what we don’t like. We can even poke fun at what we don’t like–what’s “different”. Consciously or unconsciously we are all guilty of labeling people, and we fly away from what we don’t like or understand–from “otherness.” We are much more comfortable hanging out with folks who are like us. (Birds of a feather, flock together). Who share our values, views, customs, cultures, all of it. We like to feel validated and to nod our heads in knowing expressions of solidarity. Yes, yes…I concur. And we flee from the “others” like the plague. Friends, this is how we have arrived at the state in which we find ourselves today. People shouting at each other. Name calling. Threats–both empty and very real. This is so sad, never mind dangerous. I get it, though. Sometimes it’s really hard to be with people who don’t see eye to eye with us. It’s hard because it challenges us, puts us outside our comfort zones, even makes us afraid. But fear is our enemy–you realize this, right? It is the big lie attempting to swallow us up, and it’s doing a pretty damn good job right about now. Here’s my question: what exactly are we so afraid of? I mean is it really losing our lives? Are we afraid to die? Or, are we afraid we might be changed? Are we afraid that maybe we are wrong in our judgments? Are we afraid if “others” have the same rights and freedoms we do that our way of life might cease to exist? Am I starting to make you feel squirmy? You guys, we can’t keep dividing and dividing and dividing. There’s a saying right? “United we stand; divided we fall.” We are falling. And I’m wondering just how far down we need to go before we will actually just stop and finally reach out to our fellow man and lift him up? How far? I mean, what if we started with the assumption that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know? And if they don’t think like us, then what about having an actual conversation instead of a debate? What if we sit down, and LISTEN to each other? Think about what might happen. We might start to realize that deep down, most of us want the same things: peace, happiness, freedom, love, compassion, success…I could go on and on. What we might find out is that we are all a little more alike than we are different. Have some conversations, friends. Real conversations with people with differing views, values, religions, etc. You might learn something.
Aristotle says: It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. So why must we feel the need to brow beat each other into the submission of agreeing with our view? There will be some things we just won’t ever agree on. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reach some sort of compromise, either. Crossing our arms in front of our chests and storming out of rooms like petulant little children, or storming the interwebs with a deluge of hurtful, hateful rhetoric is not working. It’s not. I don’t see anyone in any discussion threads conceding a point or changing their minds. What needs to happen is we have got to start being real with ourselves. Do I want to be a part of the problem, or do I want to be a part of the solution? You cannot be both. And what if we all decide we want to be a part of the solution? If you want to be a part of the solution, educate yourself. Talk to people who may not share your viewpoints. Be challenged in new ways. Don’t let the big lie, fear, keep you from your best. Read a lot, talk to people and listen to their stories. Above all, be kind. Every single person is fighting a battle you know nothing about. And if this is true, what can we do together to lessen that struggle? I want to be an instrument of peace, and I cannot do that while commenting on some stranger’s posts. It helps nothing. But what I can do is: build relationships with all kinds of people, donate my time to those less fortunate, love fiercely, teach someone how to do something, donate my money to groups who are working hard to help others, compose uplifting posts for people who are hurting to remind them (and me) that we are not undone. We are not without hope. We are not lost. We will keep fighting the good fight, and in the end–which will come as it will, love wins. It does. So dearest friends, be peaceful. Rest knowing that goodness still exists…it is there in our hearts. We might just have to look a little deeper to find it.
Comment and let me and others know how you’re going to be an instrument of peace…