I am remembering the day I decided to use my voice and writing skills through this blog to speak of growing compassionately. It was a rapid succession of mass shootings that stirred my heart into action. I am remembering that day not because of a new series of events but because I am once again in a hotel room with my husband and our grown daughter, awake early trying not to disturb anyone. There continues to be violence in our world and this country still has an unhealthy obsession with using guns and violence to solve our problems. I don’t know if my words have made much of a dent in any of it but the reason I started making my words public was to help change the lens through which we see others, to help us all see our fellow humans as beloved children of God. Even if I shift the view of only a few, even if only I improve the focus my own view, I will continue to write.
This past week I read a post from an acquaintance on social media that spoke of the rude and inconsiderate behavior of folks in a restaurant. She spoke of individuals who refused to accommodate others walking in the same aisle, folks who could not patiently wait for the waitstaff to finish with one table before calling them to theirs, and people who demanded immediate gratification in a crowded restaurant short on staff. She was lamenting the fact that as a society it seems we have forgotten how to be kind to one another.
On a recent trip to H‑E‑B, I witnessed two grown men yelling at each other in the middle of the aisle and then I realized that a significant number of people had surrounded them and instead of intervening or trying to de-escalate the situation, they all had their cells phones out and were recording the interaction. This shocked me far more than two men yelling at each other. Now, granted, I didn’t try to intervene either but as I was contemplating using my cell phone to call 911, two store managers walked up and asked the crowd to let them through. This distracted the men enough that they could begin a conversation with them about the situation. I don’t know how it all resolved, I just continued my shopping still stunned at the number of people filming this. It was entertainment for them to watch a public display of anger and hostility. We have forgotten how to be kind to one another.
I often think that we have forgotten that we are all in this thing called life together. We are created not to live in isolating individualism but in community with others. Every single thought and action I have impacts those around me whether I witness the consequences or not. We are created to live as companions not competitors. The abundant life God promises us comes to us by sharing our lives with each other not hoarding what we want for ourselves. Together and with God we have all we need and more.
This is the revolution that Jesus came to start: Love is what will change this world from the nightmare it often is to the dream that God intends (a big thank you to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for that amazing statement). Love, not violence. Kindness, not anger. Compassion, not hate. When we remember this, we are re-membered, made whole again as the beloved we are created to be.
When we want to respond in anger, we have the choice to be kind. When we want to respond in hate, we have the choice to be compassionate. When we want to respond violently, we have the choice to love. We can choose to see competitors or beloved children of God walking this amazing journey as our companions. We can with God’s help make it on earth as it is in heaven. Together, let’s choose wisely.