Searching for Light Amidst the Darkness

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What a week this has been!  I've been around a pretty long time and in my life I've seen and experienced some pretty unforgettable things.  I've witnessed some historical events that changed the world, but none of them - not even 9/11 have had quite the same effect that the events of these past few months and this past week seem to have had on humanity.
I am not someone people would call political.  In fact, some might say I'm a bit ignorant when it comes to politics.  In some ways, they would be correct, but I am not immune to politics.  Today I think it's pretty safe to say no one is immune to politics.  On the same token, most would agree I am a pretty positive person.  By that I mean I mostly choose to focus on the positive things in life.  I choose to be happy and not dwell on negativity or the dark side of life.  Everyone would agree that I love Facebook.  I look to Facebook to connect with friends, old and new.  I use it to promote my blog and share my photos.  I look to it to share in the joys that I and others share on social media.  But this week, and even the weeks leading to the election, I have had to search hard to find joy and positivity there.  Facebook is now filled with anger and negativity.  It's filled with political rants, name calling,  and accusations.  It's filled with criticsm and harsh words between friends.  It's become a place where freedom of speech has encouraged and allowed otherwise peaceful, considerate people to become empowered to speak without guilt, to feel justified to insult, and to ignore manners they surely have been taught.  
I don't blame Facebook for this.  I don't blame the political system.  In fact I really don't know who to blame.  What I do know is that my heart is filled with sadness.  It's filled with disappointment and fear.  It's filled with disbelief that this great country that was once known as the greatest country, the land of opportunity, is now filled with a nation full of outspoken, angry and fearful people who are responding in such a hate-filled way.  I wonder what message this is giving the young people - our children and our grandchildren.  
Regardless of who the new president is - we live in a democracy.  President Trump was elected, perhaps not by the majority, but by the system that this country has accepted for years.  He alone cannot rule this country. He cannot be a dictator.  Do you think the country would be responding  differently if Hillary had won?  I wonder.  It seems that she evoked a great deal of hatred and anger by Trump followers too.  Have we just reached a time in history where this is how we handle conflict?  Has all the violence in the world become so common that even the peacemakers now respond with hatred and disrespect?  What must we as a nation look like to other countries - the countries who our military are in conflict with and the countries who have looked up to us.  How can anyone look up to us when this is how we behave.
Let me be clear, I am not speaking of the women's march (although I did see some signs that may have been in poor taste).  Peaceful protests, speaking out for one's rights is one thing.  But lashing out, insulting, disrespecting is never useful, not in our own family, not in the workplace, not in politics even though that is where it seems most prevalent.  We are teaching the children of our nation that it's ok to behave this way.  Our children are on social media, they watch the tv, they are seeing everything.  How can they feel safe?  How can they feel pride?  What can we expect the future to hold when this is how the people they are taught to look up to behave?  I am not condoning President Trump, his disrespect for women, or any of his bad behavior.  But we cannot change bad behavior using bad behavior any more than we can stop a toddler having a temper tantrum by having one ourselves.  Yet that seems to be what is happening.  
Instead of criticizing everything we see - the president's hair, his son, his wife... we need to focus on the issue at hand. We need to remember what made America great.  We need to teach our children that we can't have a tantrum when we don't get what we want.  Mr. Trump may not be who we hoped would win the election.  Doesn't every election turn out this way - some of our candidates lose?  That's life.  Sometimes we got a teacher in school that everyone knew as 'the dreaded teacher'.  We would walk into the first day of that class with negativity and dread remembering all the horror stories friends told us about that teacher.  And sometimes that teacher turned out to not be so bad after all.  I remember the first day on a new job.  As I was introduced to everyone in my department, everyone - about 20 or so people, said, "you're working for Dr. Gilmour?" with a look of disbelief and dread on their face. You can imagine how I felt.  I wondered what I'd gotten myself into.  Well, as it turned out, Dr. Gilmour was the best boss I ever had.  He was tough and demanded perfection but he was also fair and kind and caring and I credit him for making me the secretary I was because he didn't accept less than the best of me.  It wasn't always easy, but it is something I've always been grateful for experiencing.
This has been a rough few months for this country and I am not delusional to think that everything forward will be perfect, or even totally fine.  But I do know that it won't be any easier to handle if we continue to face it with doubt and negativity, hatred and distrust.  Media of all kinds have gotten outspoken and rude and this has made us feel like it's ok to look at others with criticism, to judge and to critique.  We judge what people wear, who they marry, where they work - or don't, how they raise their children, what labels they wear.  We are so busy looking for the weakness and flaws in others, we forget to look in the mirror and realize who we have become.  We cannot return this nation to greatness by breaking each other down.  We need to build each other up.  We need to be supportive, not destructive.  We need to remember that freedom of speech does not give us the right to destroy others.  Two wrongs don't make a right and name calling never fixed anything.  The only way we can improve the climate in this country is by bringing about some peace and positivity, by having faith - in God, in the system and in your neighbor.   And it would be nice if a little of that leaked into our Facebook feeds too!  The message in our sermon at church today was this, "God made us a Masterpiece - so we could do good things to bring glory to God."  Today ask yourself if you feel like a masterpiece.  Ask yourself if you are doing good things and if you are bringing glory to God.  If you think religion has nothing to do with all this, maybe you've uncovered part of the problem, the thing that is missing.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, how about trying to spread a little kindness today. both in your immediate surroundings and on Facebook!  Let's remind ourselves, the world hasn't ended, a president has taken office. If something as tragic as 9/11 didn't destroy us, but instead could bring this country together, then one person alone cannot defeat us. This nation is stronger than one person.  Maybe we should have hope, hope that President Trump will rise to his position and become who we need him to be.  Even some criminals can be reformed with the right circumstances and support.  Oscar Wilde put it well when he said, "Every saint has his past and every sinner has a future".  Maybe even Mr. Trump can redeem his past and secure our future. God Bless America!

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