If you’re in the United States, or Canada, or anywhere that has internet service, I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent deaths among the black community and the police force.
This isn’t anything new; tension between racial minorities and law enforcement has become an ugly staple among many communities around the world.
Normally, I keep my opinion to myself. I shy away from topics like this because there are so many different perspectives, emotions, and thoughts that go along with it.
But with this, I couldn’t. I couldn’t ignore the upset all over my Facebook, my television, and the talk among the people in my home. I felt like my brain and my heart was on over drive watching all these different people share their opinions through social media.
From hashtags of #BlackLivesMatter, to #AllLivesMatter, to #PoliceLivesMatter, to people arguing over what hashtag movement is more important right now, to who should be apologizing to who, and watching strangers call each other ignorant and insulting each other, I felt a need to do something about it. But what do we do when we feel like there’s nothing we can do? When we feel like the world is going mad and there’s just no way to stop it? It’s so easy to get lost in the despair, lost in the hate, and lost in the chaos and madness. But there is something we all can do, and we can start this very minute. We must first realize that to change anything we must change ourselves by changing our perception. I offer three tips of advice for anyone who is struggling with the chaos of the world.
1. Know that if you are suffering, the world is suffering and if the world is suffering, you are suffering too.
Remember how everyone and everything is connected—every stone tossed into the river makes a ripple effect, and that river will never be as it was before. We as humanity are the river, and the stones are the actions we take as a collective. If we go through our day angry, distressed or upset, we’re bound to transfer that energy to someone or something else which then can be spread anywhere, even across the world. And just as our personal negativity affects others in the world, the suffering/negativity in the world affects all of us.
A very tragic but very accurate example of this is the shooting that happened in Newtown Connecticut, my home state. I was nowhere near the incident, and I do not know any of the families that were involved in the tragedy. But that incident effects me as a woman who wants to have children, as a cousin, and as a friend of parents, because now I worry about children having to fear for their safety, all because of an incident caused by one individual and his experience of life. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all share responsibility for the quality of each others lives, and that responsibility starts with our own choices, energy, and actions.
2. Bring big love.
Hate only breeds more hate, so bring love. It is amazing that so many people feel so strongly about this issue, and other issues like this that stem from a similar moral and ethical stand point, but posting our feelings and then attacking each other and getting sucked into the drama of who is right only creates more negativity, more darkness and more hate in the world. It makes me think, is that not the point of darkness, of hate, to suck more people into it, almost without our knowing? To steal us of our own goodness, of our own power?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” We need to take an attitude of love, and that starts with reaching out to our fellow neighbor and saying, “I see you, and I honor you. Today we begin as new.”
If it’s only said in the privacy of our own heart, that will be enough.
3. Lead with compassion, think with forgiveness, act with kindness.
This one is the most difficult to understand but once we do, it’s not only life changing, it’s life-saving. The majority of people are leading their lives the best that they can at any given time. We all come from different backgrounds, different experiences, different beliefs, and different tragedies. I truly believe every single person is doing the best that they know how to in each present moment. So instead of attacking a person who might seem ignorant to us, we should embrace them with love, with compassion, take the time to understand them, and bring light into their world, even if just for a moment.
A quote that feels true to me around this topic is one of Jesus, who said, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Now, I’m not getting religious, or trying to convince anyone of anything on a Faith, but in my heart I know these words to be true. From personal experience of healing through trauma, I’ve realized the only way to move on with life and be truly happy and free from the pain is to forgive. To see that in all of us there is a child who is hurt, confused, and disconnected from our source of self-love and the great unconditional love that comes from a faith of something greater.
This child inside gets jealous, gets angry, gets spiteful, gets hungry for power, gets fearful, gets greedy and so forth. This child acts on ego opposed to leaning on soul. This child is the aggravated man that brings a gun to a bar and kills 20 innocent people, because he cannot come to terms with the pain inside of his heart. This child is the police officer, who was raised around racism produced in our media, our entertainment, and in our history, and sees differences as a threat opposed to a friend. These acts of chaos and terror are built around fear of the unknown and the unloved. It’s built around false beliefs and unrecognizable actions.
Chaos stems from the hurt carried in the heart. So as we go about our day, instead of choosing a side to fight for, let us choose a feeling to fight for instead: Compassion. See people as they are, treat people as they should be. And by no means do I mean to love passively, and act passively, I want us to love aggressively, to let people know that their life matters, that their home matters, that their safety matters. That we matter.
I don’t have the answers as to what will come next—but I do know that if we rise from this, and we act from a place of love in all that we do, we will be one step closer to peace, and not just within ourselves.
As Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
Author: Brittney LaBonte
Image: Paul Stein/Flickr
Editor: Renée Picard