Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Dissension, poverty, and the ongoing threat of a global pandemic have robbed us of our freedom, dreams, and financial security. As the skeletons from our racist past dance gleefully on the backs of perished confederate oppressors, we tremble with fear in anticipation of the chaos that lies ahead. When the world crumbles, and no one wishes to reach a point of understanding, how do we practice the art of love in an age driven by hate and division?
Many years ago, when I was still in school, I had a troubled friend who consistently manipulated me into feeling sorry for them. Things were difficult for them at that time. They had overcome many obstacles to settle in America. I tried with all the sensitivity I had to support them, yet nothing I did seemed to change their pessimistic view. As time went on, they grew increasingly bitter and quarrelsome. Then, one afternoon, they called me. This time, however, there was something different about their manner. I immediately sensed there was malice behind their pleasant words. Anger and resentment began to build. Instantly I knew, with a sick feeling in my stomach, that they were playing mind games. At first, I wanted to yell at them. I even considered a halfhearted apology to avoid confrontation, but somehow I innately understood that this wouldn’t solve the problem. That night, I had a prophetic dream about them using people to gang up on me under a false accusation. The next day, my dream became a reality. I didn’t apologize; I purposefully ended the relationship. Another vulnerable, emotionally needy person took my place. The argument I long dreaded, the constant subject of many sleepless nights, never happened because I refused to engage. Instead, I took the pacifists’ approach and sought out healthier relationships. Years later, my former friend apologized, and I forgave them.
Unfortunately, things don’t always end this well. Often you seek closure where there is none. At some point, you have to come to the acceptance that as much as you wish you could control the outcome, you’re only responsible for your actions. Whenever you encounter a difficult situation, one in which you feel the urge to fight to defend your world view, you need to consider whether the reward is greater than the risk. In this egocentric world, it’s easy to give in to your need to be right at all costs, even when you have no reason to start an argument. There are times, however, when you must stand up for what you believe. Speaking out to end abuse or criminality in any shape or form is admirable, but arguing to win or to purposely cause division will only increase discontent, not lessen it. Wisely choose to practice restraint.
You don’t have to win the war with words or blows. Capture your neighbors’ trust with distance, love, consideration, and understanding. Take some valuable time to consider these helpful suggestions.
Take a Metaphorical Walk In Their Shoes
It’s essential to sympathize with what others are going through. They may be experiencing hard times, prolonged illness, or painful loss. These circumstantial factors will often color the way they see specific issues. While it’s good to show them you care by letting them know you respect their point of view, you shouldn’t excuse inappropriate or hateful behavior.
Practice The Art Of Patience
I know this one is difficult, especially when you’d like nothing better than to punch that special someone in the face. You can’t do this; you’ll get arrested. Walking away briefly or taking a break will help you to gain your composure. Understand that it may take some time to come to a point where you both agree to disagree without killing each other.
Listen More, Talk Less
Sometimes, you miss what others are trying to share with you because you’re too focused on your fears. You may find at the end of your discussion that you have similar concerns, but different solutions. If you want others to consider your research and opinions, you have to be ready to entertain theirs.
Pray For Peace
One of the most important things you could do to promote openness and compassion, praying, is a powerful weapon against the worlds’ darkness. When you meditate upon peace and what it means for the world, your family, and the people you come into contact with, you’re making a concerted effort to act beneficially in all circumstances. Wishing others peace as well as making it a priority for your life helps to end negative feelings and thoughts that threaten to keep you in a state of unrest.
It’s not easy to forgive others that have hurt you. Often you feel like you’re the victim in need of redemption. However, the alternative leaves you with poor physical health, unsound mind, and broken relationships. Try to make an effort to put old hurts behind you. Gently let the negative memories go. Dwelling on them doesn’t help you to move on and love others. Make room for positive thoughts and new experiences.
Take An Interest In Others
Spend time with friends and family. Make an effort to keep in touch with the people that care and support you. Try to add something meaningful to the conversation, making sure that you listen as much as you contribute. Share your triumphs, challenges, and hobbies. Comfort them when they require extra support.
It’s never too late to offer your time and talents to make this space ball we call Earth a better place. It doesn’t take tons of money, a pink Cadillac, celebrity status, or big hair to get the job done. All that is required is a deep-seated need to improve the lives of others.