My first thought after hearing about the massacre in France was, tolerance. We cannot change the hate in the world, but we do have the power to change our feelings toward and thoughts of those with whom we are at odds. Each person who does their part creates a ripple effect that can eventually spread throughout the world.
I recently watched Amazing Grace, the movie about William Wilberforce and his crusade to abolish slavery. He had few supporters at first. Slavery had become a widely accepted practice throughout the world. Wilberforce knew it was wrong and spoke out against it. He was just one man, but he was not alone. The band of abolitionists grew and of course we know now how it all played out.
We will never change anything in this world as long as the factions are motivated by hate. We will only create change when our motivations come from a tender place within. A place that seeks to understand why a person might think or act the way they do. A place that sees people as individuals not as stereotypes. A place that seeks to mend not destroy. Few of my readers live lives remotely close to Charlie Hebdo’s. We are not on the front lines of political battles. So you might think, “What does any of this have to do with me?” A lot!
Think about the way you react to a post you don’t like on Facebook, a tweet, an email, a comment. How do you respond to people’s views about hot button topics like Gun Control, the environment, abortion, health care reform, immigration? Do you get angry at the person because they don’t agree with you? Next time this happens, step back for a moment. Breathe. Then seek to understand this person and why she believes as she does. Your job is not to force another to see your point of view. You job is to seek to understand. To really listen and to acknowledge you have heard her point.
When we take this stance we remove a lot of the hot anger that can sever a connection with a person. Perhaps it will set the stage for actual dialogue rather than accusations and profanity that are rarely productive. Remember your job is not to change but to listen and understand. It may seem contrary to your mission: to spread your beliefs to perhaps create change. But has anyone been sincerely won over to another way of thinking through anger?