It’s the week we celebrate our country’s independence. Yet many aren’t celebrating this year. Instead, they’re focusing on what they perceive to be the injustices and horrors in our great nation and around the world.
It begs the question: How do we reconcile our failures with our successes? How do we take the good with the bad? Can we find pride in something that’s less than perfect? Can we simultaneously do our part to make the world a better place, while also finding contentment in the present moment?
People want to make these issues black and white, when the truth is that it’s complicated. We live in a universe that is dual by nature. No day without night. No dark without light.
It’s the balance that keeps it all in check. And the Earth is magnificent at it. But our prefrontal cortexes create human challenges that seem to cause an awful lot of suffering. Humans seem to be the only species dead set on inflicting their will on other people, places and things, assuming they know best how to address others’ problems.
The internet has made it nearly impossible to not know what’s going on around the world. Yet for the bulk of the history of our planet, we knew only what was happening in our own village.
To put this in context, just think of the fact that it was barely 100 years ago that radio was invented. 70 years ago when televisions began to appear in homes. And a mere couple of decades since most folks began purchasing computers.
Before that, folks relied primarily on newspapers and the annual State of the Union Address. Their worlds may have been smaller, yet when folks talk about the current state of affairs, the frequent sentiment is that back then were “the good ole days.”
Has our technology made us better? Smarter? Kinder? More present? More attuned to the needs of those in other parts of the world? Maybe or maybe not. In any event, when an individual takes in the problems of the entire world in a single sitting, it’s easy to become consumed by the negative.
We seem so small and the problems so big. Where do we even begin? Mother Teresa said with our own neighbors. I like to speak of this in terms of focusing on the micro versus the macro. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.
By focusing on what we can do, not only does it take us out of that sinking feeling and put us back into empowerment, it also gets us out there making an actual difference. When you get busy doing what you can do, it also becomes easier to once again see the forest from the trees.
With all that’s wrong in the world, there’s still much that’s right. The more we love, appreciate, respect, admire, discuss and cultivate the good, the more there will be. When I look around me, I choose to see the kindness in a friend’s eyes. The spunkiness in a cashier’s greetings. The beauty in the trees that surround me. The delight of the morning chirps of the birds. The wonder in a child’s eyes as they see something new for the first time. The love of my husband when he tells me to drive safe to court that day.
It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Or that there isn’t work to be done. It just means that we keep living in love in the meanwhile, and that by doing so, we perpetuate a world that will continue to be an ever increasingly lovable place to be.
As always, I’d love to hear from you and can be reached through my criminal defense firm’s website at www.shanastein.com/contact