It has been a rough few months in our household. My daughter, who has always been extremely sensitive and empathetic toward others, has been experiencing severe anxiety over the current national and international state of affairs. The thing is, we don’t watch TV in our house. We rarely listen to the news, unless NPR is on as I make dinner, and we set strict limits on her her iPad usage. Yet, somehow, the incessant violence and destruction happening around the globe has still crept its way into her world. She is eleven-years old. She should not be crying herself to sleep every night because she is afraid something terrible is going to happen to her family. She should not be asking me through tears if the fireworks she heard across town was a bomb. She should not be ruing a beautiful, warm January day as a reflection of global warming.
Is this a reality that many people have to face? That our world has to face? Unfortunately, yes. Should our children be aware, on some level, what is broken so that they may someday be part of the solution. Probably, yes. But, they deserve to be children, unfettered by crippling anxiety and fear. And, I think we need to ask ourselves how much of a role WE play in spreading the terror, the hatred, the finger pointing, the gossip and fake news. How is our cynicism affecting them?
What if we refused to partake in the current epidemic of hatred and negativity? What if we refused to read, support, share, and perpetuate the words that harm us and fill us with fear? What if we chose to break the cycle of nasty, and instead flooded social media and the news with stories of light and love? Of everyday people performing random acts of kindness for complete strangers. Of researchers making amazing innovations in science to save the planet. Of small businesses changing the world one garment at a time. Of animals showing unconditional love for their people and other members of their species. I know these stories exist because I’ve seen them in groves. I made a plea to my friends on Facebook to share with me good news and positive stories. I wanted to show my daughter there is plenty of hope and goodness in the World and to empower her to be part of that goodness movement. Not only did I get flooded with such stories, but I also received thanks for changing the tone of the feed for at least a day. Kids aren’t the only ones impacted by the barrage of bad news; we all are. And, we all feel its negative impacts on our moods and health.
I saw an especially powerful video about how the way we look at and talk about the world has a very tangible impact on people’s words and actions. Here are some of the juicier quotes:
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change…Expecting the best in people brings out the best in people. Your consciousness has the power to conjure the worst or best in everyone you observe….We all have darkness in us, but we also have the light. In every moment we have a chance, another choice of whether darkness or the light is given reign over our consciousness. Stand witness for the light in others….when you call on the divine spark in someone, you lend it the strength to prevail in their consciousness.
As one of my favorite bands of all time, Cloud Cult, says, “it’s the thoughts that you feed.” If you’ve noticed the comments of friends and acquaintances getting uglier and uglier, that’s because we are feeding the fires of negativity. What if instead we threw water on the flames by only offering words of encouragement and hope? What if we only spoke words of kindness and love? It may sound naive, but what if we tried?