Being the Change We Wish to See
In a time when our world seems to be increasingly unstable, those of us who are genuinely concerned about the future of the planet can understandably feel disheartened, and even sometimes feel as though we are losing hope that we will ever see the change we wish for.
And yet, the time we are living in offers each one of us an invitation to personal change; an opportunity for the conscious evolution of our selves. The question is… are we willing to make the changes that are needed?
Through this internet portal that we call Care2, we are invited to connect with others who want to make a difference. Crossing borders and eliminating social divides, sites such as this one bring us together under the hopeful sky of a common goal.
In the world of social justice causes, intentions may differ, approaches will vary, and perspectives may even be in conflict. And still, with all our differences and disagreements, our passion and our fury, we are united in our desire to make the world a better place.
As part of a new initiative called Peace Dot, Care2 is joining with Stanford University to build a network of universities, websites, and corporations who are uniting to show their support for peace. The perspective of Peace Dot is that we can help to create conditions for peace, if we work together across boundaries that usually keep us divided.
“People are often pessimistic about prospects for world peace. That’s a problem because negative attitudes lead to negative behaviors — a downward spiral… How can we give people evidence that there is cause to be more hopeful? Peace Dot will show how innovators are creating empathy and harmony in the world. It will show how we’re making progress toward peace in concrete, measurable ways.”
Care2 is a place where I have met some wonderful people – people who are willing to speak up for truth despite the ridicule that unfailingly follows, and stand firm in their beliefs when the tide of criticism is tugging at their feet. In short, I have found friends here in Care2, friends who share my beliefs, and yes, much to my surprise… friends who do not.
I want to share the story of one such friend of mine, who I will only refer to as ‘L’. I had met L on the discussion board of one of my posts, and we had ‘crossed swords’, in his words. I had thought of him as one of my many critics, someone who couldn’t stand my views and made it a point to let everyone else know why he disagreed. I tried not to hold that against him. After all, in an open forum, everyone has the right to voice their opinion.
But recently I was met with a surprise when I visited my inbox; I had received a message from L. I opened it with curiosity, wondering what he was going to say, after having recently made a somewhat derogatory, though rather humorous, critique of one of my posts. Well… simply put, L was reaching out to me in friendship. “We cross swords,” he wrote, “but I respect your commitment.”
We e-mailed back and forth a few times – I made one last attempt at trying to reach L with my perspective on animal rights, and he let me know that I didn’t have a chance of turning him into a convert, so I quickly dropped it. Our exchange ended on a very warm note:
“It’s great to know that even if we disagree we are friends – very civilized. We shall doubtless cross swords in the forum… Best wishes.”
It may sound very simple, and even relatively unimportant, in light of the urgency of the issues we are fighting for, but somehow this experience stands out to me as being quite profound. Having been on the receiving end of many personal attacks as a result of my outspokenness about the issues that matter to me so very deeply, this simple exchange was like a balm for the wounds on my damaged ego.
My exchange with L was a reminder that the people who disagree with me are people too. While sites such as Care2 do a world of good by bringing us together, the responsibility is ours to remember that although we can not see each other, each profile picture and pseudonym represents a real person, with real feelings, and a mind and heart that can be hurt by personal attacks or insults.
I’m not suggesting that we should stifle our passion, or even our anger, when it comes to injustice. Passion and justified anger are the antidotes to apathy, and if we have any chance of saving our planet and our future, it is essential that we break the spell of apathy that keeps us in the dangerous slumber of the status quo.
What I am saying is that it is possible to disagree, and to discuss issues where we don’t see eye to eye, without resorting to personal attacks or insults that are intended to hurt the recipient. In short, we need to learn how to raise each other up, rather than putting each other down.
In what seems to be a simple, yet remarkably appropriate step, The Petition Site has created a pledge, encouraging members to seek, pursue and reflect peace in your life and the lives of everyone you touch.
Please take the time to sign the pledge, which states, “Although peace depends on every human being, it starts with us as individuals. If we create peace in our lives, this will be reflected outward.”
I encourage everyone to take advantage of the comments board to discuss the extremely important subject of how we are going to create peace on this planet of ours. Please use the opportunity to share your experiences on Care2 and in your lives that have led you to believe peace is possible.
Photo by Cayusa via Flickr/Creative Commons