Category Archives: avoiding walls

Watch Your Ripples

I was busy revising my first book today, when I came across this article. I wrote it in 2004, but it seems especially relevant today. So here it is again

With all the trouble and bad news in the world, people may wonder what the point is of being nice to each other. It often seems that over time, society is becoming more callous and people are spending more of their energy meeting their own needs rather than looking out for each other.

While you may be able to get more money or things by always putting yourself first, there is a price to pay. The price is that money and things become your only companions. You let others know you care only for yourself or are at best irrelevant to them. By thinking only of your own needs, you teach others to avoid you as a threat to their well being, since you are only interested in yourself and not them.

I have heard many sermons over the years. One of the few which has stayed with me has helped set the course of my life. One Sunday morning many years ago, Father Brendan Breen talked about our actions as being similar to a stone thrown in a pond. The stone creates ripples that travel far out from where it lands and changes the surface of the water for quite a distance. I have heard of waves which travel all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

In a similar way, how you treat your neighbors carries on down the line. Sometimes you discourage idealists who want to change the world. Even though you can’t recast the world to suit you, you can have a rippling effect on many people. Who knows how far the influence of your actions will carry?
Thought of in this way, everything that happens between you and others has some effect on the welfare of the human race. If you do something negative, the world is a little worse off. If you do something positive, the world is a little better place to live.

It is easy to see your life as insignificant among the billions of people inhabiting the planet. Your life is quite brief in the context of the thousands of years of civilization. You most likely are aware of the momentous contributions some people have made during the course of history. Your small contributions may not make the history books, but may brighten the lives of those you meet and maybe countless others you have not met.

How often do you think about the effect careless criticisms may have on others? Likewise, you may not be aware of the positive effect you have through your kindness toward others, and how far the effect may travel.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, can be to leave the world and its inhabitants a little better off than you found them. Rather than selfishly seeking to meet only your own needs, or being critical of others, you can care for others in little ways. The ripples of your actions can travel far and wide, eventually returning to enhance your own life.

Action Steps

  • Do you feel a need to put yourself first?
  • Do you feel you will lose out if you don’t?
  • How often do you consider others’ needs?
  • Try putting others’ needs first just for today.
  • See if they treat you differently as a result.

(Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, 2nd. edition)

Build Bridges Rather Than Walls

 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

~Plato~

I have been writing articles for fifteen years .My goal as been to encourage people to look at themselves, their inner workings and their relationships as a way to come closer to others as a world community. As such, I see it as our responsibility to understand each other, learn what is important to others and find ways we can work together in our common interest. I have heard from many people over the years who are working to find a productive and cooperative way to live in peace with others.

In the past few years, citizens of our planet have increasingly turned against each other. Finding ways to work together has faded and become tarnished as more of us are tempted to turn toward grabbing what we want, ignoring what is good for anyone else, and worshipping our own needs. In my opinion, President Trump has seized on this trend, especially latching on to the anger many people feel and express over not having what they want and feel they deserve.

Although he talks about his goal as sticking up for ordinary people, his decisions so far do not offer much to the common people. The benefits of his decisions are more geared to corporations and the wealthy, which includes him.

He has not mellowed any since his inauguration and appears as petulant as ever. In my study of anger for a book I am writing, I have come to see more clearly the connection between anger and fear. The more anger a person shows, the deeper his or her fear. As far as I can tell, his fear is of not being number one, not getting enough adulation and not being appreciated. With the smallest slight, he retaliates in anger.

Why do walls have a special place in his heart? My sense is that this is his way to protect himself from the ravages of the hordes who would decrease his fortunes. He clings to his fortune and exaggerated sense of himself to make himself feel worthwhile. The fear which underlies anger and rage are often rooted in early life experiences. I don’t know enough about his early life to speak with authority, but I would suspect that he suffers from emotional wounds at a young age.

We think of walls and bridges as constructed of concrete and steel. Yet if we feel a need to protect ourselves emotionally, we build emotional walls between ourselves and others to make us feel safe. After resolving our own inner hurt, we can then feel safe enough to start building emotional bridges between us and others.

The natural reaction of a hurt person to anger expressed toward him or her is to hurt the person seen as an attacker. Responding to Trump’s anger with our own anger just makes it harder for him to recover from his own sense of being hurt and escalates his tendency to react to everyone he sees as a threat with even greater anger.

I have come to realize that my anger aroused by Trump’s actions results from my own pain residing in my inner child. I will work on my own sense of hurt signified by my anger toward Trump. I will work toward a sense of compassion for his inner child and for the pain he has accumulated.

Life Lab Lessons

  • When you feel anger toward someone, look inside yourself to see what inner hurt triggers your anger.
  • Before you engage someone else, work to resolve your own feeling of hurt.
  • See others’ anger as a sign of their inner feelings of being hurt.
  • Once you have resolved your own feelings, see what you can do to help others see the meaning of their own anger.
  • Help them resolve their feelings of hurt if they will let you.

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