Like you, I have witnessed world events unfold on my smart phone. From terror and wars and the refugee crisis, to shootings in a myriad of community spaces that ought to be safe exactly because they are our community spaces.
I have witnessed marches and counter-marches and talking heads shouting over each other.
I have tried so very hard to find press coverage that informs me rather than tries to convert me. I am struggling in this regard.
I very much want women to earn equal pay for equal work and to be valued in the workplace similarly to men.
I don’t ever want my daughter to believe it’s okay for any man, including her husband, to use her (or any other woman) as an object for his sexual gratification. I do not want to live in a world where this is okay.
I desperately want the weakest and smallest amongst us – our unborn children – to be protected and to have the highest value. I want the sanctity of life to be just that – sacred and important above all else.
In all these unfolding world events and issues, I have felt overwhelmed. Frustrated. Scared.
I have wondered where to begin.
I am a contemplative person. This does not mean I am not a person of action – I am – but first, I contemplate. Whenever I do I always seem to circle back to the starting point, which is … me.
I cannot control the events around me. I cannot control the actions of others. I can, however, control me and how I respond. And yes, respond, I should. I must take action – but – the culture I create while doing something is as important, if not more important, than the actual task at hand.
I can scream, shout, froth at the mouth and insult. I can calmly undermine, manipulate or scathingly devalue the other while creating plausible deniability. I can ignore, pretend, and lie. I can create this culture.
Or, I can listen.
I can seek to understand. I can acknowledge good points. I can think deeply and make good points of my own. I can donate to causes far away in which I believe. I can volunteer and turn up to those within my reach. I can contribute my voice and speak up in areas of my expertise. I can do all of these things … while creating a culture of respect.
In our families we can, and must, treat our spouses tenderly in their shortcomings. We should not angrily dismiss the pain of our child, nor should we ignore the confusion of our parents. These are the least of our human duties. Yes – duties.
It is well within our ability to listen with a view to understanding, not with a view to saying our say. As intelligent beings we are well able to debate without debauchery and to disagree with humility.
We are, after all is said and done, fellow human beings. As such, it is imperative that we create a culture of humanity. We must respect the humanity of others. We must connect with the humanity of others. We must identify with the humanity of others.
If we do not, the cause is lost before we start and the task at hand becomes an exercise in cruelty and one-upmanship.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18