We are living in difficult times. It seems every day something happens to shock us, numb us, horrify us, or cause us to question what in the hell is happening to the world. Because of the media (both mainstream and social) we are discovering, to our horror, that in times of great stress many people are ready to choose aggression and fear.
It’s scary, isn’t it? It’s normal to want to find someone to blame. It’s normal to want to lash out at those we feel are responsible. One presidential nominee has grown wildly popular by doing exactly that, discovering that millions of people are willing to join him in his anger, blame, xenophobia, racism, immaturity, and misogyny. But if we choose that path, we will become the mirror image of that which we oppose. We too will end up angry and bitter. Is something beneficial, just because it’s normal? I say by no means.
We actually must reject our base instincts to blame, to get angry, to react without reflection. Now more than ever, we must be sober-minded, careful, and responsible with our words and attitudes. Ultimately the way we react to the awful news around us is a choice and we must each make that choice for ourselves. Here are the attitudes I have chosen.
I choose light and hope. I choose optimism. I choose courage and reject fear. I choose warmth, respect, and patience with imperfection. I choose humility and sober-mindedness. I reject knee-jerk reactions, anger, and any/all politics and policies that characterize all or most members of any race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or political party as “other-than,” as less than fully human or less deserving of compassion.
I accept full responsibility for my own anger and discouragement and fear. I do not blame people with different political viewpoints or different cultures or religions. I can admit certain positions irritate me without casting responsibility for my irritation on those who take those positions.
No matter what, no matter who criticizes me for it, I will cling to these values and ways of being, not because they are easy or convenient, not because I am not often tempted to abandon them, but because when I do abandon them, I become as spiteful, as angry, and as bitter as those I oppose, I become their mirror image. I will not be one more voice of contempt in this bitter world.
I choose God. I choose hope and faith.
I choose love.