Thoughts to Ponder – January 23, 2016

“Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well

as destroy the object on which it is poured.”*

Ann Landers

Once again our presidential election season is upon us. Is it just me, or does this campaign seem more vitriolic than usual? Every four years we, as a nation, go through this process and each time accusations and insults fly like feathers at a chicken fight.

During the years when news traveled by weekly newspapers and letters that could take months to arrive, the writer usually took time to evaluate the consequences of his or her words before putting pen to precious, expensive paper. Some of their letters were quite pointed. Volatile arguments have continued through our history.

Perhaps one difference is that now we have instant media and many more media outlets, so we are more aware of what the candidates and their supporters are saying. This allows those running for office, and the rest of us, to spout opinions without thinking about the potential effects of their/our communication.

We may want to take a few minutes to examine our thoughts before sending them out to the world. Have we studied what we heard or thought we heard? Have we considered if there might be another aspect to that story? Have we considered how the words we send into the ether may affect the candidates or other voters?

Is this good for our individual well-being?

We are destroying the best part of ourselves and our nation by pouring the acid of hate upon those with whom we disagree. I must admit that I also participate in this destruction. I classify candidates by how I think they should act and occasionally make a statement to that effect. I can feel what these thoughts are doing to my internal self and know that others must be feeling the same. I’m concerned that many people are placing the blame for their irritation on the various candidates rather than the acid they are pouring on themselves.

Spirit,

We ask that you guide us to evaluate our thoughts and words so we might not pour hate on anyone or anything, including ourselves. We know that guilt adds to the acid bath, so we ask you to show us how to be kind to ourselves as we become aware of our thoughts and actions as we debate the issues.

And, so it is.

* Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, Prentice Hall, 1992, page 40

© by Sharon D. Dillon, January 23, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

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Love and Hate, where do they take us?

Love and Hate, where do they take us?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Recently we celebrated Dr. King’s birthday, each in our own way. Some went to memorial services or marched a few blocks to recall the difficult times of the 1960s. Others used the three-day weekend to go skiing. Some ignored the whole event. How did you celebrate or not? I used the time to complete some tasks at home while thinking about how my life has been impacted by this man’s teachings.

Opinions about Dr. King’s legacy vary, but not as widely as they did when he was prodding the United States conscience. I heard him called a leader, peacemaker, hatemonger and Communist (the ultimate epithet). I heard rants when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I was not a part of the Movement, just a watcher, but have my own thoughts about that time. I hope you’ll indulge my memories and reflect on how your life has changed since Dr. King’s time on Earth.

One summer my family traveled south in our rattle-trap car to visit relatives. At one point I had severe urgencies. My dad stopped at a gas-station with outdoor facilities. The white restroom was closed for repairs. I ran to the other one and was turned away by a kind Black woman who told me I would need to go down the street a few blocks to another gas station. If she let me inside she would lose her job. This made no sense. A bathroom was a bathroom and I needed one – immediately.

At church I was learning about the dignity of all God’s creatures, but was seeing cruelty and hate on television. I saw bus boycotts, marches and sit-ins, fire hoses, church bombings, police dogs attacking marchers and masses of people crammed into tiny jail cells. These sights and sounds found a home in my mind.

I did not participate in any of these activities, but watched with a heavy heart. As a teen at home, my parents feared for my safety and forbade me to participate. Later as a young wife, I did not participate because I feared that an arrest would mean a pay-grade reduction for my Army husband.

Then 1968 arrived, and I thought the end of the world had arrived with it. We experienced the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Dr. King’s assassination, riots and shootings, Robert Kennedy’s assassination and more riots and shootings. I was terrified. I “knew” this was the end. Just as television news terrified me, television also saved my sanity by airing the irreverent Smothers Brothers Show and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in.

Many years later I had the opportunity to interview for The Madison Times, Dr. James Jones who watched Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” from his office window while drafting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not long after that Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for Congress, granted an interview for the same paper. They were both gracious and kind to this white woman who sat on the sidelines during the movement’s worst days.

Even now events occur that lead to riots and marches. We’ve come a long way but have a long way to go. We see interethnic strife not just in our country, but around the world. Attacks and murders by militants who think everyone should believe as they do are becoming all too commonplace.

I understand that as humans we are contentious creatures who tend to believe that someone needs to be the lead dog and it should be ME. However, we need to remember the words not only of Dr. King, but also of other leaders: Jesus, crucified; Ghandi, assassinated; and the Dalai Lama, forced from his homeland.

For a different perspective we can look at comedian Flip Wilson who portrayed Geraldine, a character whose catch-phrase was, “What you see is what you get.” We laughed and adopted the phrase as our own. Later I realized that along with Flip, the leaders I mentioned were saying that if you expect hatred, you will experience hatred. If you see love, you will receive love many times over what you expect.

Those people gained notoriety and fame for teaching peace. However, we internalize what we learn from those close to us: family, friends, and people we meet. I’ve learned that even though the news constantly bombards us with violence and hatred, most people I meet are kind. I see love in their eyes. Occasionally, I see fear, but a soft voice and kind actions turn the fear into appreciation.

Do you choose to see darkness or light?

© Sharon D. Dillon, January 21, 2015