“Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”
I woke up this morning with this song on my mind. It brought back a flood of memories from childhood. I am sure many of you grew up singing this song in church. Today I started thinking about what these words really mean… “let it begin with me.”
If you are tuned in to social media, (you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't) there are more disgruntled people around than ever and even more reasons why people become annoyed, frustrated or angry. There are posts put out there for all to see on a daily basis that others find inflammatory, degrading, hostile or just plain stupid. Any of these reasons seem like reason enough for some to blow a gasket and then the fight is on. The level of hostility in the world seems to be at an all time high. We live in a society that has evolved into one that allows us to express any thought, feeling or opinion we have at any moment, for better or worse.
So, I starting thinking about how I might contribute to this “social hostility”. I asked myself, do I entertain annoyances, frustration or anger at others on a regular basis based on something I have read, heard or experienced? Honestly, yes, as much as I hate to admit it. So think about it. Do you have road rage? If the car in front of you stops when the light is just turning yellow, do you spew profanities? What about the guy who just went from the far left lane on I-24 to the far right lane, where you happen to be, so that he could cut you off and take the exit you are taking? Do you become annoyed at the woman in front of you in Kroger because she is taking too long to find the change in the bottom of her purse? Or how about the young woman with three small children piled into or hanging from her cart, one of which is screaming at the top of their lungs? Or the person in the express lane with 12 items? One of my biggest frustrations is calling a business and getting stuck on the hamster wheel of choosing options in a desperate attempt to hear an actual live voice.
I won’t even get started with all the possible annoyances about what is posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever else. Add to that the stresses of work or home life where any day could potentially erupt into chaos, panic and disorder and it’s no wonder the line at Starbucks is so long and the bars in town are never going to go out of business.
So many things contribute to our hostility level on any given day. So what can we do about it?
How about this? B-R-E-A-T-H-E, and ask yourself, does this really matter? Is this hurting me or someone I love? Let’s face it. People are allowed to have opinions that are different from our own and even if their opinion is one that we consider to be profoundly stupid, it’s not hurting us now, is it?
I recently took a voluntary break from social media and news. It ended up lasting several days and now that I am “back” I can see how it affects me. It was a real eye opener. I am not suggesting anyone move to a cabin in the woods and give up internet and I will certainly never do that. I like hot water and flush toilets and Netflix and my Ipad and ebooks.
What I realized this morning when I started thinking about peace is that it is highly unlikely that I can be a peaceful being - that I can feel at peace and be an example of peace and harmony for anyone else as long as I am exposing myself to such hostility on a daily basis and contributing to it with my negative reactions. Imagine the harsh vibrations coming off of all of us at any given moment, all collecting into a gigantic cloud of anger and frustration, building and growing. This is what we live with every day, and I don’t want to contribute any more toxic energy to the world.
I am going to work on how much exposure I have to senseless negativity and most importantly I am going to stop reacting to things that really don’t matter in the larger scheme of things. If something is not going to negatively affect my life for more than a few seconds or minutes, it’s a very small thing and tolerance and patience go a long way in dealing with life’s little annoyances. Care to join me in bringing more peace into our lives? I hope you will!
I’m Teresa West. I’m the mother of 3 amazing and now grown children, mother-in-law to an amazing guy and mom and grandmom to a host of energetic and exuberant dogs, and cats. My family is the center of my world. We’re close, a little quirky, and best of all, we’re friends.