“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Theresa
Enjoying the Silence
Today is a day when I am enjoying the silence. Off and on, snow flurries distract me. My husband is away working much of the day. The multiple dogs that walk down our street are staying home so my vocal dog is bored and sleeping. At lunch I read rather than watch the news.
I’ve started reading the Science of Mind magazine’s daily readings and meditations and this month’s theme is “silence.” Perfect. These readings help me start the day with more attention to quieting my mind, and that has not been an easy thing to do lately.
In fact, in order to preserve a healthy state of mind, I may have to give up Facebook. I like what my friends say and post, but the political comments that others, some of their friends I guess, are simply tasteless and mean. When did we exchange respectful debate for vicious attacks? Where has the kindness gone?
Disagreement Can Be Civil
In high school I learned to debate. We faced each other respectfully, armed with information and specific ideas to support our point of view on the subject of the debate. We took turns presenting our viewpoint and listened as the other side spoke so that we could respond to the points they made. The language was informed and civil.
Our Negativity Spills Out Into the World
Now, I realize not everyone has been trained in debate, and some have not been trained to use kindness when faced with different ideas. As Mother Theresa points out, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” When we express hate or anger when we are faced with differences, we infect ourselves with negative energy and it spills out into the world.
The consequences of this are not good. We now live in such a diverse world and country that it is almost impossible to avoid different ways of thinking and unique cultural attitudes. We do not need to agree with everyone, but if we want a peaceful world, we need to find a kind way to disagree. As Samuel Johnson once said, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”
Turn to the Silence
It’s a choice. As a nation, we have chosen to focus on competition, always winning, always achieving. We are obsessed with football despite the mental damage the impacts do to the players. We have to be the winner. We have to have the most money, the biggest house. And we pay a huge price.
If we want a peaceful world, we have to practice peace in our own lives and create positive energy that embraces those around us. We have to encourage cooperation and understanding and not see ourselves as the winners or losers. When a conflict arises, what do we do when confronted with another’s anger? Be still. Listen. Do not allow that anger to engulf us. I often imagine a globe of light or love surrounding me so that the negative energy will bounce off and I will feel centered.
We must also try to remember: this is not about me even when it appears to be. We resist the temptation to defend ourselves or the presidential candidate we support or the friend who is being attacked. We try to show compassion or empathy for the other person’s distress. “I understand you’re upset with me (or Hillary or Bernie or Donald, etc.).” We might even say, “I understand your concern” or say kindly, “I’m sorry, I have to go now.” Then when the person calms down, it may be possible to have a conversation with them.
How Do We Live With Unkindness?
As Mother Theresa points out, we have the power to choose to respond with kindness in many situations and the choices we make echo into the future. I often think about the presidential candidates that are congress people or work with the president. When they have viciously attacked each other in a campaign, how do they go back to working with each other after that? How do they let go of the hateful things their colleagues have said and done?
Not only do we need kindness in our personal lives, we need kindness as a part of politics. We can be kind and still disagree, but what will it take to change a government that feeds on undermining the other side at the expense of the public they are supposed to serve? I have no answer. I just know that I will vote for the sanest person who represents what I believe the country needs. Hopefully, that will also be someone who knows how to create peace and has the courage to be kind.
With all the chaos in the world, I am meditating again. Each day I must have some moments of silence to remind me that I don’t have to be part of the chaos. I have to remember to be kind to others and myself.
How do you express kindness during a conflict in your life? Please comment.
© 2016 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5