It is incredibly easy to start an argument these days. Declare your allegiance to a political party, voice your opinion on an issue, talk about who you voted for or why you didn’t vote for the other person, accuse someone of not caring because they don’t share the same convictions you do.
I am amazed, but not really, how terribly divided our world, nations, states, communities and even our families are over matters of the mind and heart. We are so quick to pick a fight, defend our position, be suspect of anyone and everyone.
I was reflecting today over what it will take to bring us back together again. Then I wondered if we had ever, truly, been together. Maybe all the hate and vitriol had been under the surface all along and we couldn’t keep it hidden any longer. I don’t like thinking that way. I’d rather believe we, humanity, are going through a rough spot and, in time, something deeper will bring us back together. To be honest I don’t have much hope in what’s deeper being what’s better. Throughout human history we have hated, warred, fought against, killed and used one another to further our own goals with little thought of how it impacts the other.
Wisdom teaches humility first. Serving, helping, putting our neighbor (hint: everyone’s our neighbor, including our “enemies”) and their needs above our own. It doesn’t seem likely to happen soon, if ever, but it starts with the choice to love, be kind, refusing to see the other as separate, apart from us. We are human. If we could only find our purpose, our “being”.
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My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.
While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.
Black and White –
Last night I had the privilege to be the representative of our company as a partner with our local Housing Authority at their annual Family Night. It was fun, festive and hot! There was a balloon obstacle course, face painting, lots to eat, door prizes and giveaways. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
My booth was to inform families, moms, caregivers and especially dads how important it is for children to develop a love of reading. We had free books, zip line book bags, and special gifts for a lucky few. As I met countless people and watched the afternoon turn into evening it was nice to see people of all shades and colors coming together. It was also great to see community organizations, churches, other agencies give of themselves to a common cause.
There is much division in our families, neighborhoods, communities, nation, and world. Everyone sees things as black and white, one side or the other, friend or enemy and it seems there is no common cause to gather around. I wish I knew what that cause could be or how to make people drop their raised fists and shake one another’s hand. The world isn’t black and white. It never has been but this doesn’t mean we can’t come together if we have the eyes to see.
Balancing Act –
There is an area in our yard next to the road that is tricky to mow. It is a sharp incline and in order to the get the job done the mower and the rider has to be at a steep angle. When I mow this particular spot in the yard I sit halfway on the seat with my body leaning in the opposite direction of the incline. The balance has to be perfect. Too far off the seat the mower doesn’t sense enough pressure on the seat and shuts off. Don’t lean far enough and there’s a chance the mower and rider could topple over. It’s a twenty-five yard long, difficult and dangerous, balancing act.
Life is also a balancing act. We live in perilous times. All one has to do is turn on the television, log online, and get the sense our families, communities, nations, and world is one mistake from toppling over into a dangerous place and we may not recover.
The problem is balance. Sides are chosen, political parties picked, litmus tests are given, judgments made and those on the other side, even ones seeking a middle way, are labeled as; “the enemy.” I don’t know if we are going to make it back from the edge of disaster but I do know it takes more strength to listen than to ignore, to understand than to shout down, to accept than to reject, to see others as us than ‘less than,’ to find balance than to demand conformity.
Maybe a Mexican!
Earlier this week I was in a store looking at shirts for summer. As I perused a middle-aged white woman walked up to me with a shirt in her hand and blurted out; “Isn’t this the ugliest shirt you’ve ever seen? Who would wear it? Nobody I know. Maybe a Mexican.” She laughed, I grimaced, forced a smile and choked back the question; “You’re a Donald Trump supporter aren’t you?” Instead I moved on, saddened by her attitude and aggression.
Too often people associate the unsightly, problematic, ills and woes of our families, communities and societies with certain races, religions, sexes and ages. Our biases and judgments automatically see the worst in others and the ugliness in ourselves stops us from beholding the beauty that exists in us all.