I’ve started and stopped this post several times, not really knowing what to say. I feel the weight of the great sadness that has settled over our world, the unbearable knowledge that innocent lives have been lost over and over again because of hate and ignorance. So many lives taken and families changed forever, and the collective heart of humanity is hurting. It is so easy to feel helpless, to wonder if the world has truly gone to hell and we aren’t able to make a difference as individuals. I guess it all depends upon what sort of difference we are talking about.
I made the mistake of reading through a couple of Facebook posts on current events this evening and then reading the comments that followed. While I recognized a few of the names of commenters, this was one of those posts that thousands had chimed in upon. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, but maybe I’m not as open-minded as I’d hoped. I was horrified by what I read; views all over the spectrum, each being attacked by the “other side”. I guess that’s what made me the most sad- it is obvious that there is an incredibly deep chasm in our country, and I wonder- can we ever cross the divide?
It seems that no longer can we have open dialogue. The battlegrounds are set, and you’re either for us or against us. How did we come to this place? For so many, their world view is set, and nothing will alter that view. Perhaps most of us are like that, though, and the polarization that has been caused by that sharp swing saddens me. If we as a people cannot find common ground- and I don’t mean all my way or your way- just the ability to sit down with each other, listen respectfully, and at least understand and respect where the other person is coming from, then how in the world can we ever stand united against the tidal wave of hate and violence that is sweeping the planet?
That being said- what can one person do to bring about change? I certainly don’t know all of the answers, but I know what I personally will choose to do:
…love with all my heart.
….be kind to others- not just those who are like me.
…work to listen and really understand where people with differing views and beliefs are coming from, learning to accept that others feel as passionately about their beliefs as I do mine, that they are not “bad” or “evil” because they see things differently.
…do my best to put joy and beauty out into the world, not getting drawn into the vortex of anger and hate.
…refuse to see the world as a bad place full of evil people.
…travel. Go out into the world to see people and cultures other than mine so that I can understand and appreciate them. Open my mind.
…look for the good in people and in the world.
Maybe it’s not much, maybe it won’t change a thing…but it will change me. And if I go out into the world changed, maybe, just maybe, one other person might be inspired to change, too. I think of the power of one wave, lapping at the shore. It doesn’t seem to do anything as you watch it, but over time, it can move mountains. One person trying their best to put good out into the world can change things- really, they can. My head is not in the sand- I realize that there are serious and scary things going on in the world. However, this is the life I have to live, and I refuse to live it in fear and hate. We all have a choice, and mine is to love, to encourage, and to hope. Always hope. I mourn for those lost so senselessly, and my heart aches for their families. I owe it to them not to give in to the darkness.