What a helpless week. A week that started under the seemingly far too often breaking news of a mass shooting. But, this time two within a few hours of one another. Add insult to injury and we’d be remiss to forget the third shooting from a few days earlier. This week also brought America a deranged person in California on a stabbing spree. These weeks typically result in an all is lost feeling.
It usually brings Americans to their TVs for comfort or understanding. Nowadays, the search for comfort and understanding seems to only further the wedge between rational ideas and irrational sound bytes. This, in turn, causes most in our country to turn away. It numbs the country to events we shouldn’t accept. It brings us to our knees at first. A feeling of why causes us to feel helpless. This results in an inner fear. Is it safe? The questions begin to run through our minds. Finally, we decide to shut it off and move forward from the grotesque headlines.
What to do? First, do yourself a favor and watch the movie Network from 1976. The film is more relevant than most in terms of what is unfolding today. This will enable you to realize that the media is not to blame. Why? They’re in it for money, and money alone. What gets them money? Viewers and clicks. How do they ramp it up? Explosive headlines and bitter commentary that agitates, divides, and satisfies one’s group think. OK, now we can move beyond the first step. The media isn’t the problem.
Next, turn off the commentary. How do you do that? Start by reading more and listening / watching less. Then, there are things you need to change while reading. When you read, do yourself favor and omit the adjectives. Reducing adjectives will simmer your emotion. Remember, most adjectives are commentary potions of the article that the writer or editor personally decided to give their audience. Do not take an adjective as factual. Also, immediately stop reading when an article isn’t indicative of the title. Don’t read anything labeled Opinion, and stop reading anything that doesn’t give a direct link to the source of the piece in hand.
Now, you’ve cut the cord from frustration via the media, and you’ve enabled yourself the opportunity to read pieces that diligently explain the scenario. You’re ready for the next step. This is the most crucial. Remember, the loudest people are always the craziest and most certainly represent the minority. They yell the most, which commands them the spotlight, and they peddle their rhetoric to the masses. They do this to advance a narrative that is most often false. How to combat them? Disregard them. Do not in any circumstances let their blanketed, mass characterizations misconstrue your views.
People who speak in absolutes, or draping macro views are the most nimble minded of them all. They have too small a mind to understand there is more that unifies us instead of dividing us. These harmful, small-minded people typically speak to us about surface level traits or ideas that give minimal context beyond the absolution. For example, they try to divide based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, age, occupation, or class.
They cannot compartmentalize that despite these surface level characteristics being most clear, they do not encompass the person. They divide us based on these small-minded thoughts that in turn force us to retreat into our now designated corners. They stroke fear to cause us to think that if we do not confide with those of us that are similar on the surface we are putting ourselves at risk.
Realize that you cannot allow these thoughts to creep into your mind. But, how are you to act? You are to not hide behind a pillow, or simply retreat to your home, ignore the reality, and avoid the present. That’s not helping. But, you can move beyond the surface. This will help you, while empowering others. How do you do it? You move beyond discussing other people, or current events. You enhance the dialogue to discussing creative, imaginative ideas. You must channel your inner child and fill your brain with the wonder and optimism it once had. Find that curiosity that enabled you once to dream about a better tomorrow. When you harness that energy, and share it with other people, then you have succeeded in moving forward.
Engage in conversation. Discuss the current, but take the chat to the next step. Talk about practical, yet opportunistic ideas to fix or enhance the now. Think optimistically and always find the half-full part of the conversation. This will leave you and the person on the other end of the conversation to feel uplifted. This creates a sense of happiness that they in turn can go forward with to channel it with others.
We, as a society should talk more. We should talk more with people who may not necessarily be like us, but in turn find out that we can get beyond the surface level differences. We’re all humans with very similar needs, wants, and desires. People love to discuss happy thoughts. Engaging in optimistic and creative conversation will feel uplifting. This is especially true when compared with the current onslaught of negative rhetoric. Take it back to the simplest of things. Face to face communication with other people discovering that you share more interests, thoughts, and ideas than what pundits and those who try to divide us lead us to think. Like Socrates said. Weak minds discuss other people. Average minds discuss events. Excellent minds discuss ideas.