There is nothing like a conversation about politics to get me running in the other direction. Away from the bashing and the divisiveness. I just don’t believe that splitting into different and unfriendly groups based on political belief is something that is positive or helpful.
Instead of dividing, I think there is a need for renewing our connection to each other. And to finding a new commitment to the common good.
Here are a few more things I really believe in:
I believe that my actions matter. That what I do (and don’t do) can make a real
difference in the world even though I recognize that I am just one person.
I believe that by quietly living my life in the best way that I can, I have contributed in much bigger ways than are apparent.
I believe in the unseen ripple effect.
I believe that regardless of what you do for a living that your actions matter.
One of the reasons I have continued for decades as a counselor is that I believe in the change that I see in people in my office. And I know when my clients walk into the world with their new ideas and behaviors, the changes they make will impact and help others that I will never meet or know about. The same is true for the ripples that are created with those I coach.
My favorite example of these beliefs in action is my brother, Dave. He is a salesman and is also one of the most community minded people I know. He seems to spend more time on his volunteer activities than his job! You can be sure that his actions in his town have improved the lives of hundreds… in many ways and for some of those people, in ways that Dave has never imagined. He is a shining example of one person making a difference.
We all have heard the saying, “What goes around comes around.” In my experience, this is true. What you give, you get. What you give to others is reflected back to you.
At one end of this spectrum are behaviors including resentment, selfishness, greed and competition: those self-centered approaches to life. At the other end of this wide spectrum are forgiveness, selflessness, altruism and cooperation.
One end is fed by fear, the other by love.
You probably know someone who seems to have self-serving motives at the root of all they do. And I am hoping that you know someone who makes you feel better just by being around him or her – who always offers peace, calm or a helping hand.
It is easier to offer love and cooperation to those you love than to those you don’t love or who create fear in you. People whose lives are rooted in a state of fear or self-serving behaviors are more difficult to cooperate with or to be open with. Their fears often strike a chord in you, encouraging you to return their emotion or protect yourself in some way. It takes personal awareness and intention to shift your response to their behaviors.
Sometimes, people who are different from you – who have different lifestyles or political views or looks or languages or religious beliefs – can create a fear in you: a fear of the unknown. In our world these days, there is a lot of information being spread that is intended to build fear: fear of the unknown, dread of the “other” guy, anxiety of “them vs. us”.
Imagine if all that effort and energy could be funneled into cooperation instead…
There would be no problem too big for us to handle, working together and keeping in mind what is best for the community.
“No man is an island, entire of itself.” John Donne wrote those words back in the 1600’s, and they still hold true today. You are connected through your family, your work, your faith community, your neighborhoods, and your schools. Together, these groups and others form your larger community.
Please consider being a force for creating cooperation in your own community.
Even an action as small as letting someone in front of you in traffic or in the grocery line starts a ripple of goodwill. Offering support to someone who needs it – to do a task because someone else is overwhelmed with responsibilities, to extend a helping hand or an encouraging word – always comes back to you. And it creates the type of world we all want to reside in.
There was a TV commercial last year that showed one person doing something kind or cooperative for another, who then passes that cooperation along to another, and others see the behavior and do their own positive gestures to others as well. Eventually, the cycle of kindness and cooperation comes full circle when the original person is seen being the benefactor of someone else’s cooperation.
There is poetry in that circle…in those ripples.
Just as there is potential for cooperation in your various communities. Consider what poetry you could be writing with your life!
When you are feeling disconnected or different than those around you; that is the time to take action to create connection. How have you created community in your life? Where do you see evidence of the ripple effect? Let us know how you are doing with cooperation and community in the comments.