Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. As hymns go this is one of my favorites. (Morning has broken is another, if you care.) This time of year the idea of peace is thrown around on Christmas cards, sung by school kids and voiced by politicians of all stripes. You might even be bandying it around. Which is great, but do your actions match your words? Let’s talk about the places in our real world that we could bring peace. Grab your coffee and let’s go.
This is all part of a series to kick the hell out of 2016. #SuckIt2016
Another Blasted Meeting
It’s the end of the year, but the meetings haven’t ended. You have work meetings, holiday brunches that feel mandatory and not about the season, programs you have to attend, end of the year awards and all the things that make work, volunteering and communities hum. I’m not anti meeting, but sometimes I have trouble bringing my best self to them.
The Situation: I’m crabby because I’m cold, I haven’t done one lick of holiday shopping and I am rushing from one thing to another. I enter the meeting perturbed, arms crossed and a scowl or I’m unfocused and fiddling with my phone. (I know you are nodding along because this is you, too. I see you at these meetings!) This crabby ass mood of mine infects the whole proceeding and everyone in the room. Ahhhh! I just made the meeting worse.
The Solution: Take a few moments before I enter the room to gather myself together. Sometimes, on the way to a meeting a shut off the radio in my car and I literally practice saying hello in a happy way. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. If I’m not able to make that time I can rush to the ladies room and take a few breaths and remember that being kind matters more than my mood.
The Blasted Comments
I stupidly have found myself either the victim of comments online recently or have read comments and been appalled at the lack of kindness in the online space. Folks just say any hateful thing they want, get buoyed up by a few other angry trolls, and forget that we are all people working hard. Valid criticism is one thing but there is a forum to deal with that and it’s called email and the f-ing phone. The passive aggressive behavior validated by online comments is staggering to me. Clearly we are allowing violent words to be allowed because we don’t yet know how to handle ourselves online.
The Situation: You see someone post something VERY stupid on Facebook. They are the dumbest, their information is wrong, you are right about what is really going on and they obviously need your intervention. (Right. I’m the ONLY one who has thought that on any given day.)
The Solution: No. Just no. You do not need to comment on every single thing posted online. Here are three guidelines to go by if you want to post a comment online. 1) Can I say it with kindness? 2) Will it make the world a more peaceful place if I share my opinion? 3) Will my comment create suffering or pain for the person who posted the original post?
Let me be clear. No one is going to change their mind based on your Facebook post. No one. And no one is going to change their mind based on your comment. That is the facts of life. You are either building a bridge or burning one. You get to decide. If you really want peace can you hold your ever loving tongue?
I am seeing a lot of my friends share the scariest stuff online and talking about it in person. You would think that we were going to hell in a hand basket tomorrow. Fear is extremely catching – think of it like a virus. A virus that most people can’t combat and just fall further and further into.
The Situation: You see an article that has your worst fears about the environment, human suffering or any other thing that you personally freak out about on the daily. It confirms your fear and you MUST SHARE IT.
The Solution: DON’T SHARE IT. Seriously. Don’t. Just let it sit for a few hours or even, if you can handle it, for a day. Honestly, don’t share it. Sharing scary shit doesn’t help anyone.
Here is the litmus test – is it something that is REALLY happening (share it) or is it MAYBE happening (don’t share it). Easy, peasy.
You don’t need to spread the virus of fear. It doesn’t help you, your friends or family or anyone else. They will probably see it themselves and you can let it go.
Peace isn’t a thing that is just going to happen. Peace is something we all have to work towards. We have to cultivate it in ourselves, spread it in the world and amplify it when we see it. This is why we are here. Fear is the easy stuff. Anger, too. Peace, though, has this amazing power to bring people together, create safety and allow for hope to arise. I know this isn’t something you want just at the holidays and we can all work to be better at this year round.