Fear is running rampant these days. It's ripping through the threadbare seams that are holding our already frail communities together.
We live in silos. It is a time different than any other in history. We are more independent than ever, yet we so desperately need community & connection.
This is a world where everyone has a platform.
A fact that can be quite fantastic, and it can also extremely terrifying.
Great ideas can spread like wildfire. But fear can disseminate amongst the masses like a flu virus in a preschool class of thumb-sucking toddlers.
People are finding their voices (which I fully support), but....
...with social media platforms, I find that some messages can come across more like a scream. You know how it is when someone TYPES IN ALL CAPS. (Please stop yelling at me....) Everyone is the king of their own castle shouting their message from the rooftop. Shouting without stopping to listen.
Social media can breed a narcissistic tone in communication.
Trolls come out of the woodwork, saying things they would never say in regular life. I think any of us can understand the feeling of anger welling up within us that can cause one to plunk out a harsh message behind the safety of a screen. Something that would rarely be said in real life.
I fear that this problem is spreading beyond our online lives. I fear that as a society we have less capacity to really listen, and hear a perspective that is different than our own...
If nothing else, the events of this past few months have shown us how broken things are.
As screenwriter Charlie Kaufman says, "The world is very scary now. It always has been. But something grotesque and specific to our time is blanketing us. We need to see that it is not reality; it is a choice we are making or allowing other people to make for us."
"It's a choice." Full stop.
Together we can choose to wake up. We can stop allowing others to feed us fear.
What role does love play? What about grace? What about empathy?
I believe that we can individually and collectively choose to exercise active love, grace and empathy. (By active I mean the opposite of passive. It's the state of active awareness of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and worldview. It's about ACTIVELY choosing a different response. Choosing to avoid reactivity.)
"When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That's when you can get more creative in solving problems." ~Stephen Covey
What can we do to choose love, grace and empathy over fear?
- We can listen.
- We can pause, sit with our feelings for a moment, before we react. We have the power to respond, vs react.
- We can understand that everyone has a story we don't know. Each person's belief system comes out of their worldview, or life experiences. They feel as passionate about what they believe as we do about ours.
- Question everything. Challenge the status quo. Challenge YOUR status quo.
- What we focus on expands. We can make an effort to find the good in the world–to share stories of hope.
- We can choose to look through another's eyes for an instant.
“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we're so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act.”
This is an excerpt from Charlie Kaufman's BAFTA speech. "What I have to offer is me. What you have to offer is you."