I recently signed up to do a 31 day writing challenge… the challenge is to write 500 words every day. I sat down tonight to write my 500 words and before I could get started, I read about the latest shooting of law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge.
It breaks my heart. All this fear and pain and hate. Where will it end?
Here are the 454 words that came out…
So much pain, so much hurt and frustration. So many people shouting, screaming to be heard. March against this. Protest that. Hear me! Listen to me! Feel my pain!
Hate breeds hate and multiplies into violence. Violence breeds more hate and spawns fear which feeds intolerance which matures into hate.
More yelling. More opinions. More marches. More speeches. More protests and counter-protests. Picketers to picket the picketers. More words leading to more distrust and more hate and more fear. Violence increases. And the vicious, hateful downward spiral continues.
Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be understood. Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to be trusted. Everyone wants.
But when words are only spoken and never heard, there can be no understanding. When respect is only demanded and never given, it can never be mutual. Trust can’t be owed, it can only be earned.
When exactly did Hate take over the neighborhood? When did we let him move in and get comfortable enough to dictate what we should do?
Civility has taken a leave of absence, and it took Common Sense and Decency with it. They have left their enemies behind to run amuck while they are away. Ignorance has taken up residence right alongside Rudeness and Anger. Intolerance and Cynicism spread their wings and took flight scattering Violence in their wake.
Where did Love go? Where is Empathy and its roommate Compassion? When exactly did they get evicted by Fear? How did Darkness overwhelm Light?
The downward spiral must end. It cannot end with the manner in which it began.
Something has to change. A shift must occur.
It begins with me. I choose who I allow to occupy my life.
I have to evict Hate by inviting back Love. I must empower Empathy and Compassion and Understanding to chase away Fear and Intolerance. I must choose to nourish Kindness and quit feeding Rudeness and Anger. I must focus on Faith and tell Cynicism to move on.
I must allow Light a place of prominence and give it all the energy it needs in order to drive out Darkness.
If I want to be heard, I must also learn to listen. If I want to be understood, I must also aspire to understand others. If I want to be respected, I must strive to be admirable. If I want to be trusted, I must act with integrity.
We must each choose to be the best versions of ourselves. We must each take responsibility for what we allow to take up residence in our hearts and minds. There is no leader who can save us, no policy that will fix us, no law that will make us safe.
No one can do it for us. We are each responsible.