Words by Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner
The news this week has been heartbreaking; women being battered and killed, child abuse victims sharing their stories and the faces of Syrian refugees trying to get to safety. Many people are concerned about the world and the future of the human race and we are all quick to lay the blame at someone else’s feet.
I believe it is up to each one of us to make the world a better place. We can’t give up on the world and the human race – at least, I don’t want to!
I was driving my kids to school and the news came on, it was the day after one woman had been driven off the road and another had been shot. My daughter asked me to turn off the radio and said, ‘Mum, there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in the world, I think God needs to flood it again!’
I agreed that there are a lot of really sad things happening at the moment, but said that the solution is not to get rid of everyone, or the people or things we deem are bad. The solution is to do whatever you can in the world around you to make a difference. To be kind to everyone you meet in your day, to your brother even when he is annoying, to the little girl that everyone leaves out at school, and most importantly to yourself. Eva understood this and then said ‘and I teach my children and they teach their children and then the world becomes a better place’. I agreed.
I think it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless when you hear the news. It’s full of events that have already happened and are beyond our control. This shuts us down from feeling we can do anything to change the world around us.
We need to turn it around and remember that we can greatly influence the world around us; we can reach our children, our families, our neighbours and our greater communities. We can be open to seeing others in pain and to reaching out to them, to supporting them. We can acknowledge the people we meet throughout the day and smile rather than look away. We can risk rejection and say ‘hello’ and ask how they are. We can be present to whoever is in front of us.
This stuff we all take for granted, yet this stuff is life changing. Smiling at someone who feels worthless can make their day. Acknowledging someone who hates themselves may save their life.
The courage to make a difference
Helping others takes courage; we have to move beyond our comfort zone and beyond our judgments and fear. Often the ones that need our help, our support, encouragement, kindness, our gentle smiles are not the pretty ones or the ones that are easy to like. The people and children that most need our help are often the ones that are difficult to reach, they may be annoying, they don’t seem to fit in, they may be the ones that rub us all up the wrong way. They are often the ones that hate themselves and have built all kinds of defences up to keep everyone out.
It takes a lot to dig deep and see that person and acknowledge and support his or her humanity. Most of us feel more comfortable looking the other way and thinking someone else will do it.
All of us have people like this around us! These children exist in every school, these adults exist in every community; they learn to become invisible or they get labeled and judged so that they are not seen as much beyond that label.
Creating a more tolerant, peaceful world
If we all want a more tolerant peaceful world, it starts with each one of us, going beyond judgment and fear into curiosity and support, to reaching that person and showing them compassion and acceptance, to helping them to find their place within our community.
Reaching out and connecting with others is powerful. The people that cause pain or become the perpetrators of any form of violence have often been victims of violence or isolation. They have been the child that is left out and has learnt to become the bully to get what they need. They have been the child that is rejected over and over by society because we judged rather than accepted, we looked away rather than reached out a hand. We feared being rejected or judged so we shut down and pretended we didn’t see.
This way of being has to change, we need to be brave and see one another for what we are inside. We are all vulnerable and we all have broken pieces. We are all in this together. When people are in pain, we all feel it, we need to learn to move towards it, to help where we can and to be grateful that we have the power that each of us does, to make the world a better place. As Mother Theresa said ‘If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.’