Life lessons…they just go on and on. They are never ending. The trick is actually learning something so that you don’t have to repeat every lesson. Truth be told, I can’t count the number of lessons I do over. In this time of grief I have become even more determined to learn a lesson or two with the intent of living it consistently not just doing it now and then. My original words in that sentence were “actually doing it” but I think that is part of the problem. Sometimes we just do things. We do things for lots of reasons, because it feels good, it’s needed or we think we should. If we are just “doing it” like the old Nike commercial promotes there is often no substance or anchor to our action. It is often just an action with little investment. It’s like contributing $5.00 to the Salvation Army bell ringers at the grocery store at Christmas time. It is a helping people organization with a long history. It just seems right to help their cause. That said, how many times have you contributed your time to be the bell ringer or help at one of their stores or gone to a disaster area to physically help out? I’ve never done that. Why? While I think the Salvation Army is a helpful organization I have no personal experience with them, no investment. I have however worked at Bible Camps that invest in people and their communities. My husband and son have worked for and with homeless shelters in our area. I have helped clean up trails and parks we use. I have participated, I have taken time and energy to do join in with things I’m invested in.
I am totally invested in my belief that the only way to make this world better is in daily decisions we make, starting with our relationships. I’ve come to realize living in a bubble to “protect” your beliefs is an epic failure. Living in fear of offending someone is also an epic failure. How will any of us ever learn new things if we don’t learn from one another? You can read all the books you want (and I do, just ask my husband) but until you take a chance to put your thoughts to the test through a conversation with others they never really come to life. My brother had some definite beliefs and he didn’t like conflict. He was a guy who truly enjoyed life. However, he didn’t shy away from talks with his friends even if they moved in a direction he didn’t appreciate. When that happend he would cock his head to one side and say “aw now (insert your name here)” to slow the conversation down. It was his way of saying, pause, think about what you are saying. Then the conversation could go on without turning into an argument. That is the key. Don’t run away at the first sign of conflict. Calmly, keep talking and more importantly, keep listening.
If I could wave a magic wand I would wave it and cut off all “news media” for a month or so and see what happens. Unfortunately it has become normal for news outlets to shout their opinions rather than just report the news. That really bad idea has now trickled into our every day lives. We don’t need to shout our opinions. We need to have conversations. We need to listen. If we don’t understand we need to ask more questions and listen to the answers! If we don’t agree with them, and hear me now, we do not need to “agree” with everyone, we do not have to belittle them. You can disagree with someone on some pretty important topics and still be their friend. It is true. I’m living proof! If you know what is important to you, what your root values are, you should not be afraid to live side by side with those who do not believe the same way. You should also not be afraid to have a conversation with them about the things you disagree. Why do they believe what they believe? Do you know? What is important to you? Why is it important? If it is really that important why would you not share it with others?
What do you think? Do you believe that more open, civil conversations could truly change our world for the good?