Over the past several months, I have been asking myself the question that everyone else seems to be asking: What is going on in our nation right now?
COVID-19, close to (and may yet become) a record number of hurricanes, rampant fires on the West Coast, earthquakes in areas that were not expected, a tumultuous presidential race, a movement against injustice and now a violent war against law enforcement. On top of these social and environmental situations, we each have our own family issues to process.
Just reading that bit of information back to myself makes me anxious and if you watch the news or follow social media, this is what we see all day, every day.
Is it any wonder that most of us have turned ugly toward one another? We have even been robbed of the blessing of a smile from a stranger because we are wearing masks at the grocery store. The smallest of joys have been taken from us.
Every good, strong American will have an opinion about each of these topics and we should. The problem is that we cannot take all of these issues upon ourselves at one time. I believe that we have to look at each of these, beginning within our own families.
We must put family first. When we neglect our family because we have undertaken a “cause,” we unintentionally create deeper issues that are closer to us than the “cause.” Take care of your family.
The next thing that I do is prioritize the issues that have me at odds with myself. Those priorities will be different for each of us but as long as we have a list, we are moving forward.
Take the most important issue on your “cause” list and find something you can do about it. If there is nothing you can personally do, pray about it and then put it in a box and move to your next priority. Whatever you do, do not dwell on it. Allow your prayer or action (hopefully both) to work the way you intended and then move along.
There will be times when we will be faced with issues that are long-term. It may be an illness (your own or that of a family member), a job, a child or a relationship. Whatever your long-term issue is, make it your priority. The other things I mentioned above will resolve themselves without your constant attention, but the long-term problems will not. These things require and deserve your attention.
Sometimes these things are all that you can handle, and that’s OK. You do not have to be the light in every situation that comes your way. It’s fine to have an opinion and it is honorable to serve when you have the knowledge and drive to do so. That is how we bring about change, but care for yourself first.
When you have created your list of priorities and you have settled them within your heart and mind, check them off of your list and let them go so you can pay attention to the things that will inevitably be hurled toward you during the normal course of the day.
For instance, if you know who you are going to vote for in the next election, settle on that decision and let it go. Don’t put yourself through the stress and anxiety that comes with waiting. You have enough of that in your day to day life. There is no reason to add to it.
If there is something positive that you can bring to the table on the topic of racism in our community, let it be heard in the appropriate setting with a positive attitude. There is no doubt there are difficult things that need to be said by many people, but those things can be done tactfully, with grace, when people choose to approach the issue with an open mind and a caring heart.
I have decided where I stand on political issues and if you read my column weekly, you already know where I stand on most of them. Now that I have made my decision on each issue that appears on the ballot for November, I’m putting it away. I no longer have to ponder, discuss (unless someone asks) or stay awake at night thinking and praying. It’s done and I can move on. I hope that you will as well. Continuing to badger me with criticism on my choices only takes valuable time out of your day. One of the greatest things about our country is the freedom to choose, so in the words of Paul McCartney, “Let It Be.”
It is my belief that prayer is the one thing that gives us the most power. When we trust in our creator to have us in the right place at the right time, opportunities for change will come to us. We don’t have to go looking for more to put on our already overflowing plates. It is unhealthy and is the quickest way to spread negativity.
This week, try to create a positive atmosphere for yourself and those around you. Smile with your eyes if you wear a mask. Show compassion, be polite and tell someone that you love them. Maybe start with yourself.