Even in the face of violent reactions by a few individuals that have led to heartbreaking loss of life in this country over the past week, most people are demonstrating an abundance of courage: This can be seen in the photo of people protecting a baby in Dallas, marchers peacefully protesting the death of loved ones and community members, and police officers reaching out to connect with and protect those who were protesting. What these actions demonstrate is that the vast majority of people are working towards the same goal: peace.
Think about that. Let that sink in. The vast majority of us want the same thing.
If we are to believe media outlets such as The New York Post, we are headed towards a violent civil war.
We are not. Yet it is easy to get caught up in the idea that the violence we’re seeing will never end. How do we turn it around?
Everything starts with this: with the decision on a personal level to go about our lives peacefully. Most of us do just that. First, give yourself credit for this, because mainstream media is not going to acknowledge that most of us cooperate every day with those who don’t hold the same viewpoint as us.
Next, acknowledge that there is always room for improvement in each of us. If we each decide to set aside ego and find one way we can do better in how we treat others, we will improve collectively.
Finally, we must speak up for ourselves and against violence of any kind – and support those who do just that. Whether a private citizen, police officer, or government official perpetrates the violence, it is not OK with us.
Here are practical ways this can be applied. This isn’t an either or list, but instead they must all be applied in order to increase peace:
- Law enforcement officials must choose to hold officers accountable by prosecuting them when they commit crimes against the people they are meant to protect.
- Private citizens must choose to acknowledge that many police officers are stand up men and women who protect and work at improving relations, by passing along stories about law enforcement’s good works and by engaging in friendly conversation with law enforcement officers.
- We must all choose to surround not only babies with protection, but also grown adults who are just trying to make their way in an often tough world. Sometimes this protection is physical, but more often it is energetic: by showing loving kindness, and by standing with those who speak for justice, we help reduce hate and violence.
- We must choose to lose the surface labels we too often stick on each other.
Let’s make the choice to take that one extra step that promotes peace throughout our community by consistently standing up for – and next to – each other. This is not idealistic. It can be practiced in real life through one small act of compassion, one decision not to judge, one attempt to put ourselves in the another person’s shoes, one choice to help someone who has been hurt.
Kindness needs to be the only label on any of our tongues right now.
“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway