How each of us carries ourselves in this world greatly affects our experience together. And with news and social media occupying such a central part of our daily activity, it’s easy to forget to investigate our own behavior. We are so impulsively quick to post and tweet about the topics of the day that we often leave love out of the equation. Why does this matter? Because there is nothing more important in human life than love.
We need to take a good look at the news and social media today. Listen to what’s dominating our conversations, even within our like-minded circles of friends. Anxiety. Worry. Fear. Raised hackles. Rage. The love we all need is muted or missing. Negativity seems to emanate from every quarter of our society. Whether the subject is politics, the climate, or social inequity, the party line is that everything is going to hell in a handbasket (whatever that means), and we often believe someone else is causing all the problems.
It can be satisfying to call out those we do not agree with. Yet in another sense, it just perpetuates the hierarchical paradigm. In all of our social media discussions and media reporting, where is the love? When does love get a seat at the table?
I wonder how many of us have deeply contemplated our own participation in creating a world that produces such anxiety, worry, and fear. I wonder, in the throes of what many call a dangerous craziness that is threatening our future, if we can consider that the past eras, out of which our modern world grew, were also not serving us so well.
As a child, I remember the Vietnam War. People were worked up then, anxious, angry, shouting, just as people are worked up now. So many people were scared. I was scared. People were protesting. Thousands of soldiers were killed in Asia, and some students here at home died in the protests. The images were very vivid. I remember all the drama around President Nixon, leading up to his potential impeachment and then resignation, and how angry lots of people were about him.
Before that, in 1962, the Cold War’s Cuban Missile Crisis erupted so quickly that people didn’t have time to get angry. It was the first time since World War II that the use of nuclear weapons seemed an imminent possibility, and people took the frightening stress of this straight into their lives. It was extreme tension on a global scale.
We can refer to more horrific events from history, but need not do so. The point is that what we are experiencing now is not new. That fact is worth serious contemplation.
What we are concerned about now is what we have been concerned about for perhaps longer than we can count – a hierarchical society based on function and class, and on achieving and receiving more, which unfortunately often comes at the expense of those who are not able to so successfully compete.
When fear is again familiar, and anger so close to the surface, what can we, as individuals, do to protect both ourselves and our world? Railing against what is wrong or championing an alternative at the expense of others keeps us stuck within the same competitive mindset that got us into this situation to begin with.
Since engaging reactively with news and social media creates polarization and precludes possibilities of personal realization that we, too, have contributed to this mighty mess we see ourselves in, we can humbly chart a new path forward. This path is led by compassion for every single human being on this Earth, regardless of social standing, race, sexual identity, religion, politics, or any other variable we have used to divide us or to justify our own positions in this world.
You may not agree with what I’ve said. It doesn’t make you my enemy. I will hear what you are saying and respect your perspective. If my view is 100 percent unchangeable, then I will not be able to contribute to an egalitarian way of living, to a new way of being in the world. If I can’t listen to you without having to show you where you are lacking or by pointing out better options, then I am not really respecting you or hearing what you are saying. I do not have to agree with you in order to have compassion for you, in order to love you.
When we learn who each of us really is – and this does not even begin to address the realm of Spirit, of God – then we become more human and access our innate capacity to connect with others as equally valuable beings, regardless of function, or politics, or religion. With an inwardly honest reflection, the tectonic plates of relationships begin to shift. And so shifts the greater collective of relationships we call society and the world. It turns out that each of us plays a vital role. Perhaps each of us is meant to do so. The world we call society is made by people and can be improved or degraded by people, by us.
This brings us to what I see as a most crucial question: What is in it for us, as individuals, when we acknowledge others in a deeper, more respectful way? How does it help us to stop competing against others when competition may have helped us to get ahead, to be right? Well, perhaps giving up adversarial relationships will dissolve all the stress and worry we take in by habitually competing and we will feel lighter (enlightened). Or perhaps we’ll feel happier and experience more fulfillment in life. Our harmonious, respectful interaction with others helps us heal from our part in creating a world of anxiety, worry, and fear. It allows us to begin the process of healing the world as well. And, as a bonus, some of the time spent taking in and blasting out media can now be used for what we really wish to do in our hearts.
Regardless of how alone we may feel at times, we are social creatures. Look how much we can gain from a simple smile or hello from a passerby. And look at how good it can feel when our views are listened to, when they are understood or accepted by others. Maybe being accepted means we don’t have to agree. Maybe we just need to hear one another and experience a feeling of respect which is nothing less than love itself, that thing we need more than anything else in the world. Maybe love is waiting to be revealed, like little flowers in a garden dwarfed by weeds that have been allowed to grow up around them. Maybe the roadmap forward we are looking for is already in our hearts.
Love can be glimpsed at times, in the social media post that shares without judging or trying to convince, or in the news story that resonates deeply in the heart, with a message that reveals beauty and harmony. Love can be found in our hearts when we manage our news intake carefully enough to be aware of what is happening in the world, but use that awareness to redirect our focus on how we are being in the world.
So when we look at the news and social media or listen to our conversations, we need to observe carefully, not just the content we are taking in, but our own inner thoughts and feelings. We need to notice our own assuming and judging. This is the starting place for cultivating a new choice on how we respond, if we really need to respond at all. For there is a healing power in taking time, not engaging, being quiet, finding calm.
Healing asks us to observe courageously and inquire within ourselves for our own inner truth and wisdom. I submit that we are perfectly capable of knowing for ourselves how to live with respect for all and, ultimately, to feel love for all in our hearts.
How each of us carries ourselves in this world greatly affects our experience together, even the physically distant experience of one another on social media.
Think about this the next time you are drawn to post, to tweet, to comment. The choice you make is a choice that can make the world a better place for others – and for yourself.
© 2017 James K. Papp, InquireWithin.com