go, grow, & Tiger, too

I am not the same person today.

I’ve grown. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve grown some more. Made more mistakes.

Thankfully, there is progress — although sometimes progress up close looks like two steps forward and one step back. Stand far away from me, and you might not see it; you’ll only see my backwards step.

“There he goes again…

He’ll never change… she’ll never change.

Same old, same old…

Once a ‘whatever,’ always a ‘whatever’…”

But that’s not true. I am not the same. While sometimes I look the same, talk the same, maybe even give the outward impression that I’m acting the same, it’s simply not true. I have grown. But from far away, you can’t see all the growth — not while it’s happening. You can’t see growth in another person when you are so far away from them.

Hence, we cling to what often, eventually evolves into inaccurate assessments of another.

With much of my family tuned in to professional golf’s Masters Tournament this weekend, I was again reminded of the wisdom in allowing another to grow… to refuse to hold on to an old perspective, even if it was valid at the time it was formed.

Valid then does not make it valid now, contrary to what might be easiest to believe.

I cheer on my favorite golfers this weekend (go, Jordan, Bubba, Zach J., and Phil!). One more I cheer on is Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.

I suppose, though, I cheer on Tiger for a bit of a different reason. 

I want to see him grow.

As has been previously chronicled, the one-time dominant Woods experienced ample professional and personal fallout. In the midst of multiple back surgeries, Woods also faced significant damage to his perceived character and reputation, with the acknowledgement of numerous extramarital indiscretions and affairs. He has spent years, seemingly attempting to recoup both his professional and personal standing.

Leading up to the Masters, in fact, it was a refreshing change this week to see Tiger on the golf course, practicing with long time rival Phil Mickelson — laughing, fist-bumping, playing together. The relationship between the competitors was always a little icy, dicy, etc., but at Mickelson’s invitation, we witnessed something different this week. Said Phil, “I find that I want him [Tiger] to play well, and I’m excited to see him play so well.”

Hmmm… maybe they’ve grown. I’m not absolute certain, of course. I’m too far away.

There are few things more attractive in a person than maturity and growth. Growth is so beautiful and contagious! I’m fearful, however, that we miss out on the beauty in so many because we hold them to an expectation of behavior that was true before… just maybe not now.

Back to Tiger. He’s competitive again, and so the press and publicity increases immensely. Publicity can be good. Or not.

Reports swirled earlier in the week that Tiger’s most recent ex-girlfriend signed a nondisclosure agreement regarding their relationship and why it ended, as indiscretions may have again been involved. (Remember the key word is “may.”)

Sigh. I hope such is not true.

But here’s the key. Even if such is true and is similar to past behavior, it does not mean Tiger has failed to grow. It may be two steps forward, one step back. It may be no steps whatsoever. But from my vantage point — the reality of being this far away — I can’t see.

Go, Tiger, go… Go, also, Jordan, Bubba, Zach J., and Phil…

Let’s all grow while we’re at it, too.

Respectfully…
AR

the other side of madness

Like many this weekend, I watched as dreams were dashed and brackets were bashed on the college hardwood. With improbable upsets and last-second shots moving from desire to reality, it was an exciting weekend for even the fair-weather fan.

None was as unlikely or historic as the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s win over Virginia. Virginia was considered the strongest team in the tournament; UMBC was considered the weakest. With the upset being the first time a #16 seed has ever defeated a #1 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament, (if you were up late enough to watch it) history was made. It was an iconic moment in sports.

Let that sink in for a moment. An iconic moment in sports occurred at the hands of a small group of 18-22 year old, amateur, young men.

So as the clock wound down and the upset evolved from the impossible to the unlikely to the seriously-are-you-kidding-me, jubilation was everywhere… Oh, how we love a good underdog!

The jubilation was everywhere! … yes … except in the hearts of the players and fans from the University of Virginia.

As fun as it was to watch the unprecedented glee from UMBC’s Retrievers — “Retriever Nation,” as is now being trademarked (even though a mere four days ago, said “nation” equated to a little more than five thousand fans), it was hard to watch the poignant pain of those who cheered on the Cavaliers.

The contrast was striking… untamed joy on one side… complete, unexpected shock on the other.

It made me ask, “How often am I aware of the other side?”

When the madness turns to sadness for a select group of people, do I:

… deny it?
… act like it’s no big deal?
… act as if only my perspective or emotion is important?

As the upsets continued — from my Ohio friends working through the unforeseen losses of both Xavier and the University of Cincinnati to Auburn, North Carolina, and Tennessee — I was struck by the postgame press conference of Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. Bridges is considered one of college basketball’s best players and he just participated in the Spartan’s shocking defeat at the hands of Syracuse, a team which barely eked their way into this year’s bracket.

Said an obviously distraught Bridges, “I really just couldn’t believe that we had lost. I thought we had the best shot to win a national championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. It’s probably the saddest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Note that: “the saddest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Right — these are most likely, with all due respect, fairly immature 18-22 year old men — but it does not negate the fact that one person’s glee is still another person’s agony.

Does it matter?

Should the emotions of another affect me? Or affect how I respond?

While I pray for these young men — deeply desiring them to realize there is so much more of life to be lived and how God totally teaches each of us in the hard spots, so-to-speak, especially if we let him — I’m mindful that the elation of one should never blind us to the heartache of another…

… either on and off the college hardwood.

Respectfully…
AR

fallen from grace

We noticed. My kids noticed, too. We have multiple sports fans in the family, so while it wasn’t discussed much at first, we all were paying attention. Once again, for the first time in years, Tiger Woods was relevant. At the lesser-known Valspar Championship — one of manifold Masters warm ups — Woods is again flirting with the leaderboard. He has played some excellent golf this weekend, as once again, in a seemingly instant nostalgic return, the silent gallery swarmed around him, progressing from hole to hole.

“It was his back, right?”

True. Since April of 2015, Woods has undergone three microdiscectomy procedures and a spinal fusion to deal with a disk issue in his lower back. At one point last fall, in fact, there was ample question of whether he would ever golf again. Hence, Woods has been largely AWOL and irrelevant the last four years on the PGA tour.

“But it was more than physical, yes?”

Also true. Tiger was the top-ranked golfer in the world for 264 weeks from August 1999 to September 2004 and again for 281 weeks from June 2005 to October 2010; his dominance was unprecedented. That dominance was then pierced by the sudden, shocking revelation that the world’s most famous golfer — the married father of two — engaged in more than a dozen extramarital affairs. He proceeded to lose millions in endorsements, publicly apologize, reveal a sex addiction, and eventually divorce his wife.

Talk about fallen from grace.

Last week we observed something similar. Here was Kobe Bryant, accepting the Academy Award for the best animated short film, seemingly sincerely moved while publicly lauded. And yet in the current #MeToo environment, it was Bryant who in 2004 publicly acknowledged that he had an adulterous sexual encounter with a 19 year woman who “did not consent.” Kobe, too, fell from grace, also losing significant corporate endorsements and public respect.

So when one falls from grace, what does it take to be relevant and accepted once again?

Is it forgetting?

Do we just allow enough time to pass so we no longer remember the cracks in the character of the adult men and women we used to cheer on?

Do we let time go by, hopefully numbing the emotion we felt when people we loved did such dastardly things? Maybe if we forget, we never have to wrestle with some of the resulting inconvenient truths in our desired, ongoing support.

Or is it, rather, forgiving?

I recognize that forgiveness is not always a popular choice. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun, and I know we avoid it sometimes because it’s the only thing we can always hold against the person who hurt or disappointed us deeply. As one who bought both #8 and #24 Laker jerseys for one of my sons, for example, I was especially disappointed in Bryant’s behavior; I was angry I then had to have a more sensitive and sad conversation with my too young adolescent.

The key to forgiveness is the profound reality that it doesn’t allow the offender to get off the hook; it allows us to get off the hook — to no longer have to hold onto the anger and bitterness that potentially take root within ‘me.’ Let’s be honest: that looks good on no one.

As for the offender, in addition to understandable consequences for his/her behavior, he/she will still have some work to do… repentance, growth, and making amends. That is his/her responsibility.

Hence, for the person who repents — and for the person who forgives — I will enthusiastically cheer. Grace and forgiveness are always worth cheering for.

Go Tiger, go… hope you do well this weekend. And more.

Respectfully…
AR

pick a number — any number

So let’s try this a different way today, seeing if we can describe the excellent, insightful meme…

You stand here. On the “X.”

I’ll stand directly across from you — only 10 feet away. On the “Y.”

Smack-dab in the middle of us — equidistant from us both — you see right in front of you, the number “6.”

You see it. You’re close to it. It’s not blurry in any sort of way. It is clearly a “6.” No doubt about it.

I, on the other hand, see the number “9.”

I’m close to it. It’s not blurry. It’s clearly a “9.” No doubt about it.

I’m convinced I’m right… and I am.

You’re convinced you’re right… and you are.

Two different people see the same thing totally differently; in fact, from my vantage point, it is totally impossible for me to see what you see.

From your vantage point, it’s impossible for you to see what I see.

And yet, we are both correct.

What would it change in our dialogue, discussion, and our respect for one another, if we had were patient enough to take the time necessary to invest in deep discernment? … to do the work that it takes that truly wrestles with the perspectives and conclusions of another — and to realize that even though we come from different perspectives and make different conclusions, we are both still, humbly, profoundly right?

Two different perspectives can both be right.

Two strikingly, starkly different perspectives can both be right.

“It’s a ‘6’!”

“It’s a ‘9’!”

It’s actually both.

Can we realize that?

Respectfully…
AR

defined by adversity

Oh, the love of a great story! … even better when it’s non-fiction.

Note the ongoing tale of Shaquem Griffin, who college football fans know as the fastest linebacker in this year’s draft class — and non-football fans will appreciate learning all in life he’s overcome. And not just “overcome.” He has amazingly surpassed and achieved.

Note: Griffin has only one hand.

Because of that one hand, people are tempted to see Griffin differently. Isn’t that the truth? We see only singular traits in other people… a physical feature, an emotional bent, a political passion — and then we judge them on that. That becomes all we see… and it sadly affects all we think about them.

For Griffin, what he’s missing has the potential to affect more than what he offers and has.

He recently wrote to NFL general managers as they consider his worthiness to be drafted. In his excellent, insightful, and sometimes fairly raw account, Griffin inspires and teaches us all…

“Nobody was ever going to tell me that I didn’t belong on a football field. And nobody was ever going to tell me that I couldn’t be great.

I rode that mentality all the way through high school. I got picked on because of my hand and I had guys trash-talk me and stuff like that, but most of the time, I just ignored it. On the football field, I got off to kind of a slow start adjusting to the high school game, but eventually I grew to be a leader and a team captain…

I’m not going to get into an explanation of the condition I was born with that prevented the fingers of my left hand from fully developing. Or talk about the time when I was four years old and I tried to cut my own fingers off with a kitchen knife because I was in constant pain. Or about when I got my left hand amputated shortly after. That’s stuff you probably already know about anyway — and if you don’t, you can Google it. The story is out there. And it’s not some sob story or anything like that. It’s not even a sad story — at least not to me. It’s just … my story…

In our backyard, we had a couple of stacks of cinder blocks with a stick across the top, like a hurdle. And when we would run routes, we would have to jump over the hurdle and do other obstacles mid-route. Then my dad would throw us the ball, and he’d throw it hard, right at our chest. And every time we dropped it, he would say, ‘Nothing comes easy’…

I don’t define myself by my successes. I define myself by adversity, and how I’ve persevered…

I’ve had people doubt me my whole life, and I know that there are a lot of kids out there with various deformities or birth defects or whatever labels people want to put on them, and they’re going to be doubted, too. And I’m convinced that God has put me on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to show people that it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, because people are going to doubt you regardless. That’s a fact of life for everybody, but especially for those with birth defects or other so-called disabilities.

The important thing is that you don’t doubt yourself.

I feel like all the boys and girls out there with birth defects … we have our own little nation, and we’ve got to support each other, because everybody in this world deserves to show what they can do without anybody telling them they can’t.

I know there are some scouts and coaches — and even some of you GMs out there — who are probably doubting me, and that’s O.K. I get it. I only have one hand, and because of that, there have always been people who have questioned whether or not I could play this game.

If you’re one of those GMs who believes that I can play in the NFL, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate you, and I’m excited for the opportunity to play for you and prove you right. And if one you’re of those who is doubting me … well, I want to thank you, too. Because you’re what keeps me motivated every day to work hard and play even harder. Back when I was eight years old, I played because I loved the game. I still do. But now, I also play because I believe it’s my purpose. I know that it won’t come easy. Nothing comes easy. But I will fulfill that purpose. I have no doubt.”

I’m struck by Griffin’s articulateness, poise, confidence and humility, and his clear recognition of both God’s creation and his individual purpose.

So wise… and so good.

Respectfully…
AR

are you virtuous?

In the 2004 “Character Strengths and Virtues” handbook, six classes of core virtues are identified, made up of 24 measurable “character strengths.” They are as follows:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, innovation
  2. Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality, zest
  3. Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  4. Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
  5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self control
  6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality

To every positive, there exists a negative; to every good, there exists an evil — every synonym, an antonym. So what are the antonyms and opposites of each of the above?

The opposite of “wisdom and knowledge” is folly and ignorance.

The opposite of “courage” is cowardice.

The opposite of “humanity” is hate.

The opposite of “justice” is partiality.

The opposite of “temperance” is rashness, brashness, arrogance, and unforgivingness.

And the opposite of “transcendence” is unimportance and inferiority.

It’s not rocket science to suggest that most of us wish to be virtuous — to be men and women of strong, solid, and uncompromising character. But why is it that in so many of our dialogues — we are marked more by our opposites above than by our strengths?

… we might claim to love humanity, and yet we show openly show hate toward someone…

… we might claim to be men and women of great temperance, and yet, we withhold forgiveness toward at least a few…

… and we might claim to be wise and knowledgeable for our years, and yet, we are not open-minded in sincerely listening to the person who comes from a varied angle.

It seems, therefore unknowingly, that our society has been lured into believing a complete lack of virtues and strengths is acceptable… especially when talking about any dicey or difficult matter; it’s why an increasing number choose never to discuss money, politics, religion, or sex.

Consistent with the Intramuralist’s advocacy for always embracing what’s good and right and true, we would be wise to remember when we are most tempted to disguise the wrong for a right — to accept the total lack of virtue.

I was reminded again this past weekend of the “H.A.L.T.” theory…

When am I most tempted to act inappropriately? When am I most tempted to withhold love, forgiveness, fairness, and far more? When am I most tempted to lash out, forgetting my deep desire to treat and love all people well?

… when I am…

Hungry…
Angry…
Lonely… or…
Tired.

When I am hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, I am most tempted to forgo what I know to be good and right and true.

In many of the recent Intramuralist discussions, one observation that repeatedly arose was the increased levels of anger in our country — manifesting itself in various ways, but typically, often destructive.

HALT.

May we attempt to remember what’s virtuous… and pause when the temptation to do otherwise is lurking.

Respectfully…
AR

Photo by yatharth roy vibhakar on Unsplash

be brave (kind, too)

One of the Intramuralist’s primary aims is to focus on that which is good and right and true; life isn’t long enough to invest in the unhealthy. With the flip of the calendar, I’ve noticed several longtime friends encouraging the same, inspired by a recent segment on CBS News Sunday Morning.

“Think kindness,” said the segment’s initial promo. Host Jane Pauley then begins by asking, “When was the last time you even thought about kindness?”

In the current cultural state in which we are often known more for what we are against rather than what we are actually for, what if we were, so-to-speak, for kindness?

Would that not be a welcome change?

Said one-on-the-receiving-end on CBS, “Someone did something for us that we did not expect them to do.” That lack of expectation is what makes kindness so special. It intrinsically prompts genuine joy, humility, and thanksgiving. It’s also something we are all capable of doing.

“We’re genetically wired to be kind. It’s actually our deepest identity,” said featured author and former organic chemist, David Hamilton. “It’s when we’re not being kind that it’s unhealthy.”

Kindness isn’t something we just do; it’s something we need, says Hamilton. Note that kindness is the opposite of stress. Yet we live in a culture which sometimes seems to subconsciously, actually choose stress, thinking for some no doubt, non-God-honoring reason, that kindness must be earned.

Kindness doesn’t have to be any grand gesture. It could simply be a smile or an affirming word. It could be the consistency of random acts… especially in social media or in circles not known to be consistently kind.

In the news morning segment, CBS introduced a couple who set out to do one small act of kindness every day for an entire year. (Let me say that again: every day for an entire year.) They acknowledged that at first, a lot of their friends made fun of them, but they continued, and quickly began to inspire others by posting their stories on social media with the accompanying hashtag, “KeepAmericaKind.” They shared tales of filling expired parking meters with coins, baking cookies for strangers, and sending pizzas to sheriffs’ departments, for example.

They are not alone. Acknowledging the contagious aspect of kindness, many more have embraced the idea of 52 “weeks” of kindness — #kind52 — aiming for one act and thus one post each week of the year. Note the sweet act from one longtime treasured friend:

“Week 1 of 52 Weeks of kindness. I took a picture of a puzzle that a patient’s husband completed while she was doing radiation. I had the picture printed and I am putting in a picture frame to give to him. This kept his mind busy while his wife was treated. He was so proud of this and I wanted him to remember the beautiful puzzle he had completed. Can’t wait to give it to him!! #kind52.”

And from another:

“Walking into the gym and the young girl from Fry’s grocery store was out gathering grocery carts, which of course were all over the parking lot. There was one just set up on some rocks on the curb, and as she came walking over I looked at her and said I’ve got this one and I pulled it out and took it over to where her line of carts were and placed it in there… It may not be a huge act of kindness but it made somebody’s job just a little bit easier and it let her know how much she’s appreciated. #kind52” 

Oh, how I love this! And oh, how refreshing it is in place of all the rants and raves and finger pointing; the rants and and raves and finger pointing are too often not very kind.

We can do better, friends, but in order to do better, we must be intentional; we must use “the muscle,” so-to-speak. As the segment concluded, if our “kindness muscle” goes unused, it will atrophy, and the urge to be kind will go away.

So if we are going to be kind adults, it’s easier the earlier we begin to exercise the muscle. Such is the thinking of Brian Williams, the founder of “Think Kindness.” Williams goes into schools across the country, encouraging and empowering elementary and middle school children…

“Be brave. Be kind. Change the world.”

Kindness begets kindness. We have the power to change the world.

What if we were known for what we are for?

What if we were known for being kind?

Respectfully…
AR

maximizing the meaning

This Christmas season, let us slow down somewhat. Let us pause long enough to reflect, grasp the meaning, and ask even the tough questions.

But let’s not wait until the 24th or 25th or even for any annual new year resolve. Let’s pause now. Let’s ask the questions now. Let’s maximize the meaning of the season….

Proclamations resound, calling for peace on Earth, goodwill to men…

What does peace on Earth take?
What does it look like?
Do I have a role in this?
What gets in the way?
And how am I contributing to it?

What about goodwill?
Do I really believe in it?
Do I believe instead in goodwill only toward some?
And is that dependent on if another has wronged me?
If they think like me?
Have I limited who I am and who God is by withholding goodwill?

They say the season is miraculous…

Do I believe in miracles?
Do I think they only happened long ago?
Do they happen only in the big stuff or in the practical, too?
What would it change in me if I saw miracles daily? … in my routine?
What keeps me from seeing miracles?

It’s a season of faith, hope, and joy…

Is there an area of my faith in which I know I need to grow?
If I’m refusing to look at that, why?
Where have I assumed I have all the answers?
And hope — pausing this moment to acknowledge what grieves me — am I recognizing the great hope shared this season?
Is it enough for me?

It also is a season of giving — although I don’t think it’s so much about stuff…

Am I focusing more on presents or presence?
Am I spending too much?
Am I focused on stuff?
What about consumerism?
Have I bought into the lie that more is better?
Am I worshipping the so-called god of more?

This season, friends, let’s pause before the actual holidays. Let’s pause long enough to ask the tough questions, maybe refocus a bit, and maximize the meaning of the season.

Respectfully… with a few added Ho-Ho-Ho’s…
AR

what’s most important

Marquese Goodwin has known much success in his 26 years.

He was born in Lubbuck, Texas and attended Rowlett High School. There he had the second fastest 100-meter time in the Lone Star State, was the state champion in the triple jump and long jump, and was a member of the state title-winning 4×100-meter relay team. He won seven team track and field championships.

Goodwin’s success did not stop there.

On scholarship at the University of Texas, Goodwin continued to succeed. In track and field, he was a two-time NCAA champion in the long jump and a four-time All-American in track and field. He won five Big 12 Conference championships and made the All-Big 12 team seven times. His collegiate success then propelled him to the 2012 Summer Olympics, finishing tenth in the long jump.

But Goodwin simultaneously played collegiate football, starting as a receiver and returner, including in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. He has played in the NFL since 2013; he is currently a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.

This past Sunday, the Niners played the Giants. In the second quarter, Goodwin was on the receiving end of a huge play, scoring an 83-yard touchdown, his best play of the year.

As soon as he reached the end zone, Goodwin blew a kiss to the sky, fell to his knees, and made the sign of the cross. He then gently laid his head upon the end zone turf, as several players came and appropriately, gently knelt beside him.

Just hours earlier, his wife, former Longhorn hurdler champion Morgan Goodwin-Snow, had to deliver their first child prematurely due to complications within the pregnancy. The baby boy did not survive.

Said later in an Instagram update by Marquese:

“I just wanna thank those who’ve genuinely prayed for @morganakamomo & myself through out this pregnancy. Unfortunately we lost our baby boy due to some complications, and had to prematurely deliver him early this morning around 4am. Although we are hurt, I am grateful for the experience and grateful that God blessed me with a wife as courageous and resilient as Morgan. The pain (physically, mentally, & emotionally) that she has endured is unbelievable. Please Pray for the Goodwin family.”

I can only imagine the depth of the pain the Goodwin’s feel at this time… and to still go to work. Gut-wrenching.

And while my heart aches for this family, I find myself simultaneously struck by Goodwin’s apparent realization of what’s most important.

When Goodwin crossed the goal line, there was no celebration. There was no dancing. No drama. None of the current clever, often whimsical festivities.

Goodwin did his job, was honest in his emotion, and in his grief, still later was able to acknowledge the great big God of the universe.

My sense is that sometimes we get lost in the game. We get lost in any perceived competition — be it sports, politics, you-name-it. Sometimes we get distracted and derailed. We start to major on the minors, no longer able to recognize what is minor.

My prayer is that we always instead realize what is most important.

God be with the Goodwin family. Pray for them, Marquese humbly requests.

It’s important.

Respectfully…
AR

a social experiment

Every now and then I really like a line on this blog so much, I think it and say it over and over; sometimes it’s more than a line. I keep thinking today of how each of us contributes — knowingly or unknowingly — to the division in this country. As stated Thursday, “Our national divide will never get better if we keep contributing to the fire. We’re adding fuel to the fire with our sideways comments… our angry posts, our cutting comments on social media… the rolling of our eyes when people are sharing their stories.” Yes, we are part of the problem.

I have a good friend with whom I have long bantered over all sorts of stuff… from music and kids to healthcare and home life. We’ve long been able to talk about all. We don’t always agree, but we both recognize that agreement is not necessary for unity; respectful dialogue is always more important. We are both sharpened via such.

In recent months, my friend found herself tempted to be more of the problem, contributing to that division. It’s easy, folks. Sometimes we don’t even recognize our involvement. We feel strongly… react strongly… sometimes even baiting another by posting something provocative… maybe they’ll say something disrespectful or outlandish back… then everyone will see that they are the problem.

Unfortunately, we are part of the problem.

Recognizing such, my friend decided to conduct a small but significant social experiment. With her permission, I share such with you now…

What exactly was your experiment?

I wanted to see if I could change the quality of my Facebook feed and take control of the algorithms. I unfollowed anything political in nature — all news and current event pages — and I unfollowed friends who only post provocative political posts. I also marked all like ads as irrelevant — and I replaced them with pages that promoted peace, joy, kindness, etc. I began liking posts like crazy that were similarly peaceful and positive and then hiding posts that triggered anger, sadness, or hopelessness.

What motivated your experiment?

My feed had become 90% news and politics. Funny thing is that before the 2016 election, I hid many abrasive conservative friends. After the election, I had to hide my abrasive liberal friends, too — who were doing the exact same thing, just from the other side. I don’t care for Pres. Trump, but I didn’t need to hear the sky was falling every time I opened my feed. My gut then told me the steady diet of political opinion was unhealthy and responsible for my emotional funk. I had to change the diet or continue feeling badly.

What have you learned?

I’ve learned that I feel better when I stay clear of the political backbiting. I was taking every snipe personally, feeling defensive and hopelessly unable to control the mess in our country. I’ve become better at observing others without my heart getting so personally involved. I’ve learned it’s pretty easy to change your social media feed.

What has surprised you?

I was surprised how easy it was to change. By limiting my exposure to the bad stuff and focusing on what unites us, I began to feel better immediately.

Do you feel like you know any less than you used to?

No. I can tell if something major happens by other people’s posts. I’m then forced to go to actual, factual news sites, avoiding the provocative spin of social media.

Will you keep it up?

Yes. No second guessing. I want my involvement in social media to promote peace and loving kindness — to all. I don’t want to be drawn into any mudslinging.

What else?

I think it’s important that we take charge of the angry rhetoric being thrown around — rhetoric that only divides us. We need to realize how easy it is to become part of the problem.

My friend also added that she wishes to help build that path to unity — to positively influence those around her — to intentionally build positive relationships.

Building positive relationships… dare I say, so much wiser than any fueling of the fire.

Respectfully…
AR