In the quiet is when the thoughts seep in. Working out, the drive to work, the time right before falling asleep when the house is settled for the night. That is when the fear, the anger, the worry and the helplessness starts to take over. Outside the comfort of my little piece of the world, the rest of the world seems to be erupting in chaos. In pain, anger, contempt and turmoil. So many of us are experiencing the same feelings, I am sure. As we go about our lives, we try to push the discomfort down, but in the silence we can’t ignore our own feelings of pain, anger and contempt.
This morning, as I was driving to work, in the intentional quiet, the radio off, phone on silent, I let it all come in. I am afraid of what we are becoming. I am worried about what this means for my future, and the future my kids haven’t even begun to think about. I am worried education will be impacted, compassion will be forever changed, diversity will become a word we learn about in school books but don’t experience for ourselves any longer. I am scared that I won’t have any answers when my children ask me, faces full of innocence, what is happening.
While the thoughts swirled in my head, and started to drown my heart in heavy emotions, I let them drift in and out, like a tide. And after I allowed the fear and anger to move in and out, the hope started to drift in as well. The reality is, we are experiencing a terrifying time in history. We aren’t the first to experience such times, and we probably won’t be the last. And I cannot tell you how each of those times felt for those fighting the battles before us, but I can tell you what glimmers of hope I see in our current climate.
I have seen strands of commonality, strung together to create beautiful, emotional and powerful quilts of strength and humility. I have seen people come together to illustrate that their differences are what make them special. I have seen fires ignited that have been ignored for many years, and leaders stand up to those trying to extinguish them. I have heard hundreds of single voices, singing a different verse of the same song from their own corners of the world. I have seen people stand up for themselves in ways that are both respectful and admirable. I have seen people stand up for other people in the same vein. I have seen people get involved in ways they never thought of previously, because it is all becoming too precious to take for granted. I have witnessed compassion and kindness and diversity. All things that make us human.
And I have seen fear. And raw emotion. I have seen anger. I have seen spite. And I have seen mean, hurtful statements that make some feel more powerful. But, in the quiet. In the moments when my own fear threatens to take over, I choose to remember, and be energized by, the hope. The hope that I can be a part of. The hope I can contribute to. I can stand up for myself and for others. I can have respectful, caring conversations with those with different viewpoints than me and make those conversations human and emotional. I can support people and empathize with what they are feeling. I can show my children, every day, that love is a most important emotion. Humility, respect, empathy, compassion, strength, courage are all things I can emulate so they see that is what their future should include.
I can’t change everything that is happening in the world. But I can impact it. I can have a say in how I think about it and how I react to it. I can be filled with hate or with courage. I can sit and be afraid in my little piece of the world, or I can get involved. I can support education, and love, and diversity, and help for those who desperately need it. I can do this empathetically, and with the strength I want my children to see. I can break down and feel the emotion of it all being too much. And I can get back up and fight again. And I trust that many of us can do, and will be doing, the same thing. And little by little…we will make a difference.