Today, we are blessed with yet another uncommonly warm and beautiful November day. A raven greets the sun in the distance. The restaurant across the street is filling fast for brunch. There is no indication that anything is amiss, and yet.
Changes simmer and tempers flare as some members of the community proposed a public display of art that does not meet the approval of all. Our online public forum has seen its share of angry and passionate comments in favor and against the project. Accusations fly. Words that may have been spoken in the privacy of small groups in the past now find release for all to see in social media forums.
To be honest, I have taken part in this sort of exchange in the past. To be honest, I hated myself for it. Today, I hate reading it from others. No. Let me rephrase that. It makes me sad. And thus I needed to untangle a few threads of thoughts before I get back to my sewing.
How would things shift if we made it a point to believe that what matters most is to find ways to encourage others when they are deeply engaged in new ideas, even ideas we do not embrace ourselves? Our entire language would have to change. We would not discourage a new idea, but rather encourage a different approach.
How would things shift if our first thought were not to identify how negatively someone else’s idea might affect us? What if we decided that while their ideas and process may differ from what we believe is best, there is always the possibility that the outcome will be surprisingly good?
Our first reaction is to feel we have been wronged. What if our first reaction were to readily welcome new ideas simply because they challenge us to think outside of the box? We get bored so easily.
Ever notice how we choose to be angry? In all honesty, we do. On the other hand, connection is not a choice. It flows naturally when we are on the same wavelength. Ever notice how a mere difference of opinion can cut the flow? The only difference is that we stop seeing the person in front of us and start dwelling in our own beliefs. Then, we turn angry and see the other person even less. Then, they turn defensive and blind as well. Just saying this feels like an entire horizon just collapsed. And it did.
Surely our connection with neighbors, even those with grand or somewhat disruptive ideas, still offers the possibility of willing kindness.
Does this mean we must agree with everyone? No. It does not even mean we have to like everyone. But it seems we owe it to ourselves to act and speak kindly for no other reason than that we are neighbors.
We speak passionately of reducing our negative impact on the planet. We worry about climate change and care about our legacy. How about climate change across fences?
How can we succeed if we keep blowing up at each other? This is just war at another level, multiplied as every angry voice echoes across every square foot of every community. There is nothing wrong with heartfelt anger, but there is a choice about how we express it. We’re always only a moment of silence and a kinder choice of words away from true climate change. And it’s a two-way street.
I know every single person in my community would bend over backward for a neighbor in need; even a neighbor whose ideas and behavior drives them nuts. This point of connection is the only one that matters. What if it shaped every word we speak? I know I need to remember this as much as anyone else.
Gotta get back to work…