Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Don't Just Give It, LIVE It

There is something really wrong in our society.

It's probably always been there, but lately, to me, it seems to be getting worse.

Megan Kanka's dad worked with my dad.  Nineteen years ago, my parents were away for the weekend when Megan went missing.  When the call came that our fathers' company was organizing a search party, Jason and I went to help.

In the last couple of weeks, a 16 year old girl in the town where I now live did not make it to school.  No one knows where she is.  The police are still looking.

A girl from the town I grew up in has been missing since April 11.  Her car was found in a parking lot by a train station and her purse was found on the George Washington Bridge.  But no one knows what happened to her.
Photo Credit: WTAE Pittsburgh

Yesterday, at the Boston Marathon, bombs were planted by the finish line...intended to kill hundreds of people.  This morning some of those people wake up in much worse shape than they were yesterday.

What is going on?

There are no simple, easy answers.  No laws can change this.  No infringement of civil rights, no revision of our Constitutional rights can change this.  These events prove that this is much bigger than gun control.  Much more pervasive, much more damaging.

I believe mental illness plays a part in all of this.  Whether it's someone's will to force their power over another's.  Whether it's someone wanting that 15 minutes of fame.  Whether it's someone stressed beyond capacity.  It's an expensive and difficult fix.

What can you and I do?

Beyond the search efforts and tip lines and donations, the easy answers for today...we can do so much more.

We are all part of a virus spreading through our society.

The virus of hostility and discontent.  It is spread through social media and then through contact with everyone we encounter.

We read someone's strong political sentiment, so different from our own view and our blood boils, we long to be understood, so we re-post a counter statement, something strong and negative.

We read someone's status of their awesome day, their raise, their bonus, how much they love their life, their vacation plans...and we feel worse about ourselves, that we have not had a raise in so long, that we are lonely, that we miss a loved one, that we are stressed...and we wonder why the world is so unfair.

When we post pictures of our recent material acquisitions or how we have something better than someone else...oh, we may tell ourselves, "I just want them to see how nice this is..." but in reality, what are they feeling?  Do we ask ourselves that?

I know these actions are not going to cause someone to shoot up a movie theater or a school, abduct a child or set off bombs...but we are causing stress, maybe pain, maybe discomfort, maybe sadness, maybe unhappiness, maybe unrest...we are spreading hostility.

Is that what we want for our society?

I know the world is not unicorns and sparkles.

But why not spread smiles?  Smile at a stranger.

Spread kind words.  Tell a stranger you like their hat or their shirt or their handbag or their shoes.

Spread kindness.  Be patient when waiting on line.  Let that car go in front of you.  Wave your thanks when someone lets you in to traffic.

Post encouraging words all the time, not just in the aftermath of a tragedy.

Don't try to "one up" people with material gain.

Spread thankfulness.  Start gratitude lists.  Tell people that you are grateful for THEM.

Post about what you are thankful for.  Leave politics out of it.

Try to see the other side, try to understand, don't be so righteous that you can't open your mind to understanding someone else's plight.

Be patient, be peaceful, breathe deep.

Post about the feeling of the sun on your face, the sweet smell of spring flowers, watching a thunderstorm roll in...simple pleasures.

I am guilty of spreading hostility, too.  I have done it as well.  I have done it without thinking.  I have done it without realizing it, as I am sure you have.  I want to spread happiness and peace.

I know these things may not change children being abducted or bombs going off, but they will make life better on our planet.  You can change someone's mood, someone's mind, someone's day with a kind word or smile.  You don't have to spend hours volunteering or dip into your savings to make a difference...although those things are good...don't just give it, live it.  Take the challenge to go beyond your pocketbook and be kind to strangers, tell those you love how grateful you are for them, don't post hostile political statements...Make our planet kinder and gentler.  Think globally, act locally.  It starts at home.