* Roy T. Bennett
“When the power of love is greater than the love of power, the world will know peace.” – Jimi Hendrix
I headed to the trails this week in an effort to find serenity.
One of the best ways to escape the heart-wrenching news in our country, I find, is to move through the woods.
My husband Bill and I, joined by our trail-running friend Al, waded through some still-wet knee-high grass, found the terminus of the trail, and began our slow climb up the side of a hill.
There is conversation when we run with Al, the exchange typical of long-time companions, picking up threads from the last time we were together, weaving them together with new strands, meandering and absorbing, sometimes retelling familiar stories, sometimes heading down new paths.
Our trail running is the same way, full of stops and starts, getting lost in the weeds, then breaking through to familiar territory.
We stopped to admire three toads as they hopped across the path and moved a box turtle out of harm’s way.
I’m not sure if we were more interested in actually viewing the toads or using them as an excuse to stop and catch our breath.
In the quiet moments, I found my thoughts gravitating toward the events occurring in our country.
It’s no secret the United States is on fire these days. Anger, sadness, division, isolation, and hopelessness seem rampant.
We need to find a “new normal“, one that is better, more compassionate, considerate, and inclusive than the “old normal” but we are not sure how to navigate.
We are out of our comfort zone with no clear path forward or back.
And maybe that is the best news possible.
Change is usually not made from a position of comfort. Change often comes about because the status quo becomes so uncomfortable, revolution is the most appealing option.
While our destination is a mystery to me, I do have some modest thoughts about the journey.
Expect to make mistakes
We will make many mistakes on our collective journey, go down a few blind alleys, meander in circles, take some wrong turns.
We should expect these mistakes and learn from them. Our brains work by storing those mistakes and making needed corrections.
We should treat failure as scientists do, viewing it as just another data point.
Because we tried something that didn’t work doesn’t mean that we are failures, it means we need to find a different method, a new path.
Give each other some grace
We need to move through the process with a minimal amount of judgment.
This may be a tricky one. Since the advent of social media, we all seem to be addicted to the self-righteous, judgemental, snarky comment.
When did we all become 14-year-old mean girls?
When did everything become a zero-sum game? For me to win, you must lose.
Let’s do some adulting. (Yes, I’m verbifying that noun.)
People on the right blame the left, supporters of the police blame protestors, secularists blame the religious for all of society’s ills and vice versa.
Everyone is so busy pointing fingers at others, we have no time to reflect on how we, ourselves may be part of the problem.
Giving grace to others is a sign of maturity, not weakness.
We all make mistakes, we all have faults. Let’s stop assuming frailty in others gives us strength. Not everyone’s comfort zone is the same.
Build the airplane as you are flying it
We can’t afford to wait until we have everything figured out to begin. We need to see some real changes in our society now.
Commissions, committees, and study groups are fine, but they sometimes move at a glacial pace. Our country needs to see immediate movement in the right direction.
We can work out some of the details as we go.
Changing as a people means individual change
Finally, we as a people need to change. That means each one of us needs to make some individual adjustments in our attitudes, actions, and in our hearts.
We must embrace equality in reality, not just as a laudable but far-off goal.
Change is hard, scary. Accept the discomfort.
Begin your own journey, then help get others on board.
Be the inspiration we all need so desperately.
As Jimi wisely said over 50 years ago, our objective should be the power of love, not the love of power.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
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