There is a lot going on in the world these days, and no matter who you are or what you believe, together we are trying to understand and make sense of it all. Our beliefs and mores are challenged daily by the avalanche of information and disinformation in a 24-hour news cycle the purveyors of which, for the most part, have given up all pretenses of objectivity. It is too easy to just go to the television or radio channel, or website that espouses your point of view. This gives us all the false reassurance that our views are right and just. This is not a new phenomenon unique to the last year or two, but the degrees of partisanship appear to be snowballing at an alarming rate. If as a country we don’t soon turn the tide and tone down the rhetoric on all sides, then all we’ve accomplished is to destroy, for future generations the civil harmony that has always defined what it means to be an American.
Believing and supporting a principle or cause is a good thing no doubt. What’s more difficult though, than maintaining your own convictions, is being open to other ideas and concepts, and engaging in genuine discourse with those who hold dissimilar beliefs. I have many friends and family members that hold diametrically opposed political, religious, and social views. I may disagree with some of them, but I will not let that factor alone determine our relationship. Besides, how boring would Thanksgiving dinner be?
Social media has no doubt played a major role in shaping many different aspects of today’s society. Online chat rooms, community bulletin boards, news feeds, and so forth. have made it too easy for us to lash out at each other. This is especially dangerous when those who are engaged are doing so anonymously. Social media does have many positive attributes. For instance, Facebook enabled my husband to connect just in time with a terminally ill childhood friend whom he had lost track of for over 30 years. But it also has a dark and divisive side. I believe it would go a long way towards restoring civility if we were all to log off and be active and interact with people face to face.
I think what I am reflecting on is that actions speak louder than words, and that the written words that are being used can be hurtful to your friends and neighbors, especially if you have a different view on life. So, let’s use this year, and especially this month of LOVE, to reflect on what is good in our lives and what really matters. Step away from the computer, put down your phone and go for a walk to reflect on the great life that you and your family and friends have outside of the world of social media.