I have struggled to understand what it is I want to convey in this month’s blog. Like most of you, I have kept up with the news, watched some friends implode and then explode on social media, and have had many heartfelt discussions with my family. While I do not anticipate my blog making a huge global impact, my goal, whether it’s through my book, my blog, or my every day encounters, is to try to impart some experience, some thoughts, and some kindness. With that, I am grateful to make however large or small an impact I can, whenever I can.
When I was a young deputy, before computers and phones with mapping ability, before Google Maps and Waze, there were physical maps. We actually had a map book with page numbers and legends to “quickly” find a road when we were dispatched to a call. During this (what now seems like pre-historic) time, it was not uncommon for someone to ask local law enforcement for directions. The running joke, because we were in Florida, was when someone asked, “How do I get to Disney World?” We would often want to respond, “You can’t get there from here!” While, at times, the person was just joking, there were plenty of other times when people would ask how to get to Disney while traveling the interstate in a completely different part of the state. Not from here.
We Can’t Get There Without Empathy
As I watch the rhetoric across our media, I keep thinking, we will never get where we need to go—to a place of kindness and empathy and understanding—if the media does not stop sharing violence and hatred twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And, if our politicians, our “leaders” on both sides, don’t step up to find a common ground to make peace, well then, how are we supposed to? “Empathy” should not be part of some catch phrase for the 21st century. Empathy is real and can serve as the vehicle to get us from here to there.
I refer to myself as an empathic because I can generally see most sides of the argument by understanding the place from which others are speaking and acting. What I cannot understand though, no matter how empathetic I am, is the decision to act with violence. I am a firm believer that it is never the answer. But violence follows hate, and all you have to do it turn on any news station or open any social media app and you will find plenty of it.
Hate is everywhere today. And it simply cannot be condoned by our elected officials, no matter what side you are on, by the news media, or by ourselves. Some will comment with the words that are important to them or that they think should be important to them, like socialism, tyranny, justice, unfairness, and racism, among others. And I understand it. There are real issues that need to be addressed; that need resolutions … now. Yet, remaining fragmented and turning to violence is not how we get there. In fact, it only divides us more. What we need right now is less division and more cohesion. What we need is less judgment and more empathy. Why should we lose any more lives? We must come together as a nation and develop something that promotes peace and understanding. That is the only way we can start moving forward to make a difference.
What is happening around us is affecting everyone in different ways. We are stressed all the time, wondering what comes next, nervous to turn on the news in the morning. Everyone seems to be communicating with a guard up, ready to be attacked or to attack at any moment. We do not stop and look at each other anymore. We do not have real conversations. As aware as I am of this, I am also guilty of multitasking and forgetting to disconnect from my electronics and reconnect to those I love. Our kids are stressed living in the unknown as much as we are. To further worsen their situation, their impressionable minds are being fed a constant barrage of often false information through their electronic devices. What are they thinking? How can they learn empathy?
As a person who has traveled nationally and internationally, I have experienced and connected to people from many different cultures, with many different customs. I have friends and family who have completely different political views than me, and I appreciate and respect each one. I will not allow myself to have preconceived notions about anyone or anything, and always understand where that person comes from. By doing so, I can better understand why they feel and act a certain way. I can disagree with a specific thought that person is having without disrespecting them or discounting their emotions, and still enjoy a glass of wine with them, because I truly C.A.R.E.
The question becomes—how can we C.A.R.E. more, so that we can find some control and peace with the madness enveloping this nation today? One recommendation is to stop watching video clips that show only hate and violence. Now, I am not saying to ignore what is going on around you, but I am suggesting you consider reading the news instead of watching it. Reading allows you room to form your own opinions and thought processes when taking in national events. This doesn’t just apply to the news though. Overall, you should do everything you can to limit the amount of negativity you allow within your day. If your friends on social media are stoking the fire or sharing memes that serve no real purpose, do not like or share them. If you do not want to see it, but want to remain friends, you can block their post to remove the temptation of responding or getting angry. In those situations, try to use this rule of thumb: Believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see.
We have zoom-in, slow-motion cameras and we still can’t agree with touchdowns in football. How can we be so sure of something that we watched on social media in a quick couple of seconds that is marked with negativity and hatred? Be cautious in what you allow in your head and in your heart, and always make room for love.
Finding Room for Love
I think often about the Black Eyed Peas first major hit that went global, “Where is the Love?” There is a certain lyric that I keep repeating, “Take control of your mind and just meditate and let your soul just gravitate to the love, so the whole world celebrate it.” Isn’t it true? We must take control of our minds, now more so than ever, so we can gravitate to love. And, from the Black Eyed Peas to one of my favorite verses: 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
We must remember to love each other and to C.A.R.E. to come together as a nation to heal and grow stronger. As with my directions to Disney World, if we do not start with empathy and love in our hearts, we can’t get there from here.
Until next time, please take C.A.R.E. of yourself and those around you in as many ways as possible.
For more information on this topic, visit One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions or www.teresameares.com.
Empathy and love are the only ways to counteract the hatred and negativity permeating our society. We must work harder to reduce negativity and judgments and increase understanding and love to move to a better place—for ourselves, our children, and our future.