“Be brave,” says my spirit.
“Wait,” says fear.
“Have courage,” says my soul.
“Not yet,” says worry.
“Dare,” says my heart.
-Rachel Marie Martin
All of this and more, it speaks to me on so many levels. Thinking about writing, relationships, and my own self-expression, I’m sitting here on a Monday morning, trying to think of something positive to add into the world. I can think of several, but I’m afraid the negativity is sucking me down. I want to write about THAT! I want to say what’s on my heart, but at the same time I don’t want to feed the monster.
There are two big things on my heart this morning. The first of which is news media. Why do we keep watching these people, the vultures of all the ugliest parts of our world? They feed off our despair, our pain, and then feed it back to us as if they are doing some good for the world. “The people have a right to know!” and “Freedom of the press!” is what I hear, but what I see is a group of people getting in the way, clamoring for a good view, and speculating to the world about the disaster that has just happened, spreading fear and terror to the masses. Why? If something terrible is happening in another state, is there anything I can do at that moment to fix it? No. Is there something I should know to stay safe where I am at the moment, therefore needing the information? No. The only reason they are on the tv is to get me to watch, to raise their ratings, and to sell advertising time. This is not news, it’s sensationalism for ratings. It’s making money off people’s fears and insecurities. It took me less than five minutes to be reminded of why I do not watch these so-called news channels.
The second thing is this idea of “stopping hate,” as if hate is what is driving people to hurt each other these days. Newsflash: People have always hated other people. Do you know what’s worse than hate? Despair. We can hate another person and feel no need to take any action against them. But when we despair, when we feel there is no other way, that we have nothing to lose, we lash out in anger. A person in despair acts out in many ways, all of which are prevalent these days. Some medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol, some do themselves harm in other ways, physically and mentally. Some “live for the day” and throw themselves into hedonism, following every desire hoping it will bring them momentary joy. And some commit violence against others. Like a child without the means to communicate his anquish, he decides he has no other choice but to hurt others the way he is hurting, and he’ll use any tool he can find.
How can we help? I can think of a simple way. Stop sharing it on your social media. I know we think we’re helping our cause by raising awareness, but we’re not. We’re only causing people to despair. Every time we point out another hopeless cause, every time we point out the cruelty, the injustice, the hate we find in the world and then blame it on someone else, we create more despair. It’s hard not to do it. When I see how much one person is hurting another, or hear of one cause I believe if we only put our minds to we could fix, it’s hard not click “share” and show others in the hope they will join me against it. But that’s the problem. We’re all trying to get others to join us AGAINST something or someone.
What can I do to help? Spread hope. Spread joy. Share the highs. Share the love. There is so much in this world that is better than it has ever been. Why focus on what is not?
As I sat eating breakfast with my teenage son, discussing these feelings I have, the sadness I find in my social media feeds, he was baffled. His young friends and the pages he follows don’t seem to have this urge to share the negativity for the most part. It seems that’s an “old person” way to use the new technology. We have something to learn from our children.
A couple years ago, my sons taught me how to change my social media feed by unfollowing friends that only post the negative, and not liking and following news channels. I find my news in slower media forms, printed magazines and newspapers. That simple change filled my social media feeds with positivity, science, religion, relationships, and writers I love. It’s been a wonderful change. I do still have a few friends that consistently share the ugliest of things. I love them but I have to tune them out for my own sanity. And then, when something like this past weekend happens, even my most positive friends are shaken, and rightly so. That’s when I choose to put my phone down completely and let the dust settle. I don’t need to know the details as they happen. I don’t need the play by play, the body count changes, or the speculations as to why it happened. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It means I’ll wait until the event is over and read about it in a rational and complete way, one that doesn’t tear at my heart as if my own child is dying in my arms for days. Since I can’t control what others post, and I know it will hurt me for no useful reason, I put my phone down and I turn the tv off. I turn to my home, my family, my friends and my local community and live.
What if we all did that? The honest truth is that in this world, people are hurting each other and dying every single day, all over the world. It cannot be avoided. It cannot be worried and legislated away. The only thing that will make anything better is love. Love those around you, love them unconditionally whether they “hate” or not. Don’t push more people into despair by shutting them out. Stop giving people more reasons to feel like they have no other choice but to fight. Love people even when they make bad choices, or choices you believe are wrong. Love people when they are angry and love them when they hate you.
Start creating joy around you. Start creating love. Start sharing love, unconditionally and in as many ways with as many people as you can. And you can start with your own social media feed!