Mid-week postings are not my norm, but the recent bombings in Boston are weighing heavily on my mind. With each act of gross violence amongst humans, I find myself feeling small, and helpless, and hurt, and yes angry. I wonder what is next … where is all of this leading us. And then I see a beautiful post from my friend Louise Gallagher on this same topic and how such violence has impacted her life.
In Louise’s post, she expresses we have choice: “Choose harmony over hostility. Love over fear.” And I would add to that: Choose connection over separation.
When we listen carefully to our initial responses, and the responses of those around us, we find tendencies towards fear, hostility, separation. And in doing so we give life to the same emotions in those who perpetrate such acts. They feel our fear and hostility. They feel separated from us. And in some way this perpetuates the cycle.
This doesn’t just happen on a world scale. This happens all the time in our daily lives. Walking through a shopping mall, dealing with a car accident, issues with our children. Each day we are faced with opportunities where we can choose how to respond.
What if we deliberately chose to respond with harmony?
When walking through a busy shopping mall and feeling constrained, detained and insignificant, instead of pushing through the crowds what if we responded by slowing down, going with the flow, smiling more, holding doors for others and saying hello to a few people?
What if we deliberately chose to respond with love or compassion?
When someone accuses our child of doing something unacceptable, instead of reacting defensively towards the person making that accusation what if we tried to understand the impact of this supposedly unacceptable act on the person making the accusation before exploring the impact on ourselves or our child? What if we first understand their fears before addressing our own?
What if we deliberately chose to respond with connection?
If we have a car accident, do we put up the walls of police reports, license plates and insurance companies and hope to get the better of the battle? Or do we reach out, say something like “I’m sorry we had to meet this way”, ensure everyone is okay, show warmth and work to get to the best possible outcome for both parties?
How would we affect the world immediately around us if we chose harmony, love and connection in every encounter in our lives? And would the positivity generated through those acts potential inspire others to do the same? How far would the impact go?
But there is risk in doing these things. And vulnerability. If I choose to go first will I be harmed, hurt, shunned, embarassed, etc.?
Who chooses to go first?
Leaders do. Each of is is a leader in countless situations a day. A leader is someone who takes others to places they don’t know how to get to on their own. Leaders understand and embrace acceptable risks. If each of us chooses to lead ourselves in a truly essential manner by embracing harmony, compassion and connection, I think we will be amazed by how many people will choose to follow us. And then how many choose to follow those people? And so on …
Please choose with wisdom.