I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Stop, Look, Go”. I don’t watch news on TV or read many papers (except the News-Press, of course) because I don’t think their very helpful, in fact, I think they can be harmful to our society. You see the entire media industry, from advertisers to newspapers, is based on fear and scarcity. There are millions and millions of videos, blogs, newspaper columns, entire television networks based on the idea that if you are scared or if you feel like you don’t have enough you will buy more stuff, or you’ll vote a certain way, or you’ll fight those who think differently than you.
I’m as guilty as the next guy for living in fear. I fear for my job, my child’s safety and education, I fear for the country, that we keep electing people that refuse to act in the interest of the people that elected them. I fear that every time I play basketball I’m going to break my ankle. I am what my family calls an “awfulizer”. I can think of the worst possible outcome for every situation, but I’m hoping to turn over a new leaf.
I’m going to try to live in abundance rather than scarcity, I’m going to try to live in gratefulness rather than fear. I’m going to try to be happy.
During a TEDTalk, Brother David Steindl-Rast said, “Gratefulness can change the world…If you’re grateful you’re not fearful, if you’re not fearful you’re not violent. If you’re grateful you act out of a sense of enough and not a sense of scarcity and you are willing to share. If you’re grateful you are enjoying the differences between people and are respectful to everyone…this doesn’t make for equality but it makes for equal respect, that is the important thing.”
You can watch it here:
Too often we see “the other” as wholly unlike ourselves. We see differences as something to be feared, we see people who have different theological, political, economic, social ideas as evil rather than members of our community. When we are scared it makes it easier to hate, easier to dismiss, easier to blame. We are afraid that we will lose something, our voice, our way of life, our country, but when we are able to be grateful for our differences we begin to see those who we thought were “other” can strengthen us by providing opportunities for change, for learning, and an opportunity for a more joyful and happy life.
Steindl-Rast offers a simple way to make the move from fear and scarcity to gratefulness and abundance; Stop, Look, Go. Make “stop signs” in your life. Maybe that’s a post-it note on your light switch that reminds you what an amazing thing it is that we have power in our homes, or a note on your steering wheel that tells you to pause and take a deep breath before you start your busy day. When you stop, it gives you an opportunity to look. Open your eyes, your nose, your ears and notice the things around you, open your heart and notice the opportunities that moment provides for you. Maybe it’s just an opportunity to enjoy that brief moment of pause before the next thing. Then go, respond to the opportunity, enjoy the moment or maybe you’re being called to something further, respond to a need, a neighbor, to help put a smile on someone’s face, and be grateful for that opportunity to respond, even if it’s hard.
This soft spoken, Benedictine monk has one more quote that I wanted to share with you:
“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that makes you happy.”
Let us do our best to be grateful for the opportunities that present themselves, and let us stop, look, and GO!
At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.
Favorite: We had an opportunity to have lunch with some old friends from Oregon this week. I also began the season as my daughter’s U6 soccer team coach. Go Cheetahs!
Not Favorite: During the storm on Tuesday afternoon when the tornado sirens went off, my kids were in the basement of their daycare, I was in my own basement. I did not like being separated from them, especially when those sirens went off.