Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Alright, apparently sleep's not in the cards quite yet.


I spent this past weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My home town. I was attending my high school reunion. I saw people I hadn't seen in decades, many of whom still live there. And pretty much all of them are working for good in some active way. My best friend from high school told me about the young women's soccer team that he and his soccer star wife coach. He says young women come and go but over the years they've actually built a bit of a small family. Apparently leading through love, support, and respect leads to people wanting to stay connected. He says they are aware that the team may be the only positive interaction these women are getting. So they go out of their way to bring encouragement, love, and support. So there, in the middle of all that "red," are these two helping young women to grow into mature, responsible, effective adults. Hearing him talk about this team was one of the highlights of my visit.

When we look at these maps, and read the stats, we have to remember that we're talking about people. Hurt people. Angry people. Poor people. People who felt like they've lost something. People who have lost something. And yes, people who have been convinced that they've lost something or might lose something. But most importantly, a lot of them are people who never had the chance to even see another way of being. They had no guidance. If you ever had the wherewithal to get up and leave a situation, move, quit, get out, (or even CHANGE YOUR MIND) then you know what it was like BEFORE you made that decision. Nobody makes a choice to be small minded and fear-driven. They make the choice of comfort, of risk aversion, of group acceptance, but they don't see myopia and the echo chamber down the road. They just keep their heads down and absorb the culture that surrounds them. It's easy to forget that there are folks who simply never had a chance to be anything other than what they've always been. Nobody's born enlightened. My friends are making a difference. We never lose that power.

A smart, smart woman once said to me "Hurt people hurt people." When you think about it, of course they do. What other form of interaction do they know? I'm just thinking of all those folks who are going to sober up and see what they created. We could blame them and hate them and make them pay. But then, we'd just be adding hate to the hate.

We can't fight hate with hate.
Fighting hate is still fighting and looks a lot like hate.
There is no success in fighting for peace. Fight kills peace.
Declaring a war on hate is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
Love doesn't defeat hate.
Love simply replaces hate.

In the coming days, I'm going to be tempted to go after ignorance, to stamp on it, crush it, teach it, save it from itself. But none of that is going to be nearly as effective as simply responding with kindness and love. The hard choice. Because it would feel better to fight. I want to fight. I'm good at it and man, I really do have some good words. And once I get going, I can mock, attack, and belittle with the best of them. But that will only get me more of what I don't want. Hate.
Fighting fire with fire only works in one situation: Fire. And the reason it works with fire is because you destroy all the fuel. An awful approach with people.

I've had enough destruction for awhile. I'm done with war. So I, for one, am gonna try something else. What that is, I don't know.

But I'll figure it out.

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