THE STRUGGLE TO SEE HUMANITY IN A POSITIVE LIGHT
I have a file folder in my brain marked “humanity.” It is the ever changing source of how I think and feel about humans.
The file folder was mostly empty when I was a baby. It contained images and words about the people who cooed at me or held me close or fed. Humanity was smiling faces.
As I grew older the file folder grew too. People, media, books and news offered more images and information about human beings.
At first I let it all be filed in my Humanity folder. . . riots, the Beatles, teachers, politicians, friends, advertisements and more. In time I began to understand that not all things I heard or saw or read were accurate or life affirming. I began to select what I would let into my file folder.
I moved away from the city to our home in the forests of Southern Oregon in 1972. Each year my folder had less and less first hand information about crime and hate and pollution.
What I read and saw and chose to experience as a country woman shaped me and shaped my view of humanity. My file folder labeled “humanity” was filled with examples of kindness and generosity.
I was an optimist who saw the decency and intelligence of human beings, even though I worked in child protective services.
There were sad things that happened in my personal life and in the world at large, especially in the last two decades. There were wars and earthquakes, forest fires and poverty “out there” in the world beyond my land.
My house burned down in 2004 and my first husband died of a brain tumor in 2005. My son Robin was shot and killed in 2011.
You would think that the world events and the personal losses would have destroyed my rosy eyed view of humanity. All those did shift my view, but mostly my file folder was still filled with positive “paper.” (Or gigabytes in the computer age.)
the political and societal events of the last five years, mostly in the United States, began tumbling out of social media, news, people’s mouths and actions, on political signs along the road, in protests and in ugly ugly conflict.
I began struggling these last few years to make sure the Humanity folder in my brain was not being overwhelmed with images, stories and facts of human beings at their worst.
I realized I needed to deliberately look for the intelligent, creative and decent traits of people and groups.
I began taking more time and care to choose what I watched, read and listened.
I intentionally chose to only let people into my brain who added to the quality of my life.
more and more I was struggling with a mighty battle. I wanted to stay informed and involved but I was saddened by a side of humanity I never wanted to see. Sometimes I was flat out stunned by actions or words or beliefs.
My file folder on Humanity was battered and darkened.
AND THEN COVID19 ARRIVED
In the time of “before” I already had decided I did not want my thinking, my spirit, my view on life and people to become discouraged and cynical. I wanted to see the beauty in humanity. I wanted to see the possibilities.
I wanted to want to be connected with all people.
With the arrival of Covid19 it no longer was a matter of me wanting these things. I desperately, passionately needed to seek, see and nurture the light in every person. I needed to intentionally see all of us as one family.
AND SO I AM COMMITTED TO
. . . staying informed with verified facts
. . . listening without an internal knee jerk dialogue of “wtf are they thinking.”
. . . deliberately seeking out evidence of the kindness, creativity and intelligence of individual people
. . . breathing deeply and loosening my jaw muscles and tense shoulders at the first exposure to what I let distress me. (signs, posts, briefings, actions etc)
AND I WILL REMEMBER THAT
my view of humanity is determined by what I CHOOSE to let into that file folder in my brain.
AND SO I CHOOSE, EVEN IF IT IS HARD,
not to become angry, cynical, disgusted, disconnected, and divisive.
I CHOOSE TO BE LIGHT.