Who really matters?
We are all afraid to say what we feel. The current political climate, the expectation of tolerance and political correctness have most of us, well me anyway, feeling intense emotions but hesitant to share what it’s in my heart.
Current events in our world that deal with terrorism, racism, religion, sexual orientation and the like fill our minds with fear and worry…
If I use that hashtag will I be ridiculed?
If I agree with this person’s point of view as well as empathize with the other side; will I be judged a hypocrite?
One life-changing story in the media can get our emotions reeling like a roller-coaster.
In the past three weeks, I have felt a variety of emotions: anger, deep sadness, revenge, empathy, and ignorance.
There have also been times when I have felt downright pathetic for not truly understanding the meaning and history behind everything that is happening in our world.
Yes, with the recent shootings, violence, and the uprisings there have been many thoughts, emotions, and opinions going through my head. But that’s just it…..it’s MY head! MY emotions! MY opinions and it has NOTHING to do with the situation and does nothing to change it. But change is definitely needed (there’s my opinion again).
Most of us have kept up to date with each unfolding story lately ready to give our opinion on what everyone outside of our world should have done, needs to do and explanations as to why it is happening; but how can we have the right answer if we have not walked in that person’s shoes for that particular situation? If you have not lived in their world and experienced what that person or group of people are facing how can you hope to have the “right answer”?
Maybe this is the season for us to LISTEN! We will never know how to change and make a difference in any situation until we learn to listen. Yes, we are listening to the radio, the TV talk show hosts, the newspapers, city officials and politicians but it is HOW we listen that makes the difference.
Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
I realized my pathetic desire simply to have an opinion when I first read of the sit-in of the Black Lives Matter Movement at the Pride Parade in Toronto on July 3, 2016. I found myself spouting my opinion to anyone who would listen. Did I understand why it happened…in my mind, I thought I did so that makes my opinion of value right? I thought so and I spent many wasteful hours talking about what should have happened and what shouldn’t have happened with everyone involved in it.
Two days later I was spending hours that turned into days reading about the horrible shooting of Alton Sterling, the 37-year-old who was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Once again, my opinion of what needs to happen, and who is responsible, and what the world needs to do, filled my conversations.
Then the tragedy touched closer to home. My hometown, in the very area of St. Paul, Minnesota where I grew up, 32-year-old Philando Castile was killed by officers in full view of his partner and young daughter. Now I can’t sleep because I can only hear the thoughts, opinions, frustrations and fears in my own mind about what is happening in our world. But as we know the tragic news did not stop. The violence now turned to our police officers, and terrorism affecting the rest of the world. July has been a very emotional and life changing month for everyone.
But with all the time spent trying to understand the predicament we find ourselves in as the human race, what did I accomplish? What changes did I bring about in the world? Not much because I did not take the time to listen and study to understand.
So how can I change anything in the world?
I can change ME!
There are 5 ways that I feel I can change the world. I hope that if you listen to these encouraging ideas, take them into your heart and apply them to your life we can see real change for the better. One Person Can Make a Difference. Together We Can Change the World.
1. Send thoughts of love or pray!
Words carry life in them. Positive Thoughts can transcend boundaries, and prayers can be spoken and sent to places we cannot go. Without knowing the situation, we can all ask for guidance for our leaders, strength for the victims and comfort for the people who will have to go through unspeakable hardship.
2. Think outside the box!
Not only does each tragedy affect the lives of the people involved, it has a ripple effect on their families, community, and the world around them.
Is there an organization in the affected area that we could donate to? One that could help bring some relief of some sort to the families?
Is there a way to use our social media to stir up more acts of kindness within the community affected instead of more resentment and anger?
3. Be well informed
Not only by the latest news updates but by knowing the history behind the actions; how has the past affected the present? How did past community leaders deal with situations like these?
Will this study period take up a lot of time? YES! But we are already spending “time” and energy on a most controversial angle or most entertaining one. Why not put that time and energy to better use? Learn the who, the what, they why, the how. After all, this is not a Hollywood Blockbuster we’re watching – this is our reality. This is our world. And it isn’t right.
4. Allow others to have an opinion
This brings us back to that difficult word: LISTEN
Your friends may surprise you by their opinion on a situation, especially if you assume you both see eye to eye on. Try to avoid dropping the friendship just because they don’t agree with you. You have to allow others to grow just as you are growing, and learning what works for you in your world. In the day and age, we live in we don’t have time to waste being upset because someone said something that you think was said incorrectly or that did not speak to the current situation. This is definitely a tough one for me, but as I am learning, and growing I need to give people in my life the freedom to speak their mind without judgment.
5. Treat others the way you want to be treated
In the times we live in we never know when tragedy is going to knock on our door – when our town or home might be headlining the news for tragic reasons. It’s a sobering thought, but one that is a harsh reality.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want people to say and do for me and my family if it was my name being read on the news?
- How would I want people to respond to me when they don’t know the whole story?
- How much space, time, and consideration would I want if the tragedy I was facing made worldwide news?
Asking ourselves these questions, before sharing our thoughts, can mold us into citizens of the world. People who make change happen without creating more pain. Using these strategies I am learning to be a better person every day.