There are so many tragedies happening in the world today. They’re all around us! How do we give our children hope and talk with them about what’s going on and how to make the world a better place? What can we and should we do to help make the world a more peaceful place for all of us to live? How can we as Americans begin to strive toward creating a world in which our children will be safe and happy? A world in which they’ll be able to live productive lives and not live in fear of being harmed?
I’m Wendy, one of the owners of the Hip Homeschool Moms site, Facebook page, and Facebook Community. Lately I’ve been discouraged by all the tragedies I’ve seen in the news both worldwide and in local communities. And I have to admit that I’m sometimes discouraged when I see people tear each other down on social media too. Why does it matter? Because our children are in the process of learning and developing and growing into the adults they will be in the future. What they hear us say and do now, they will say and do in the future. What kinds of people do we want our children to be? If we stopped to think about that each time before we posted on social media or spoke to others in person, I think our words would often be very different than what comes out of our mouths (or our keyboards)!
Recently a friend of mine, Mark Yeager, posted on Facebook about something that happened to him. (He graciously gave me permission to share about it with you.) He told a story about what happened as he was on his way home one evening. He had stopped to get gas, and he noticed a man walking toward him. The man walked up to Mark and asked for help for himself and his wife. Their car had broken down, and they were trying to make it home. They had paid for their car to be repaired, and they had no money left to buy food. They were hungry because they hadn’t eaten all day, and they still had a long way to go to get home. Mark said that he bought the couple some pizza and drinks, shook the man’s hand, and said goodbye as the couple headed home.
So why did Mark share that story? Because he admitted that, although he felt good about being able to help the couple, his first thought when the man approached him was that of uneasiness. He began to wonder if the man was going to hurt him. The man had his hand in his pocket. Was he about to pull out a gun? Why did he pass other people who were nearby and choose to talk to Mark? As these thoughts passed through his mind, he realized that, unfortunately, we have arrived at a place in time where we don’t feel safe. We feel threatened. We feel afraid when we see people we don’t know approach us.
As I read Mark’s story, I thought about how sad it is that we’ve come to a point where we worry that other people–strangers–are out to do us harm. It happens so often now. People hurt others just for the sake of proving a point. Or just because they can. Or maybe to feel powerful. Or to try to persuade or even force others to see things their way.
Mark stated that he felt ashamed that he’d reached the point where he was more worried about his own safety than how he could help that couple who needed help. He began to wonder what the world will look like for his children and grandchildren. We have reached the point of truly fearing (and sometimes hating) other people that we don’t even know! Not because those people have done anything against us, but because we’re afraid they will. Or maybe because their beliefs are different than ours. Or maybe even because we think they hate us.
Instead of loudly proclaiming our differences and spewing out hate speech and accusations, we should be proud to stand together and support each other. We should work together to support each other, help each other, and make the world a better and safer place for ourselves and our children.
Our words do matter! Our words can help create unity and peace and a spirit of willingness to stand together, work together, and be united. Or our words can create chaos and fear and anger. Our words in our homes, communities, workplaces, and even on social media can inspire others to greatness, or they can cause others to feel defeated and worthless and hopeless.Let's choose our words carefully. The way we use words, either to build up or destroy, will be repeated by our children.
As Mark pointed out, social media has become anti-social media. Often on blogs or Facebook posts or even in real life, we wish for others to fail. We purposely discourage others. We make unkind comments or say rude things or (yes, even as adults) call each other names. Instead, let’s choose to support each other. Let’s choose to treat each other kindly. Let’s choose to disagree in a kind and respectful way–understanding that it’s ok to disagree with each other as long as we do it in a way that doesn’t belittle or devalue others simply because they don’t hold the same opinions we do.
So what do we tell our children about creating a better world? We tell them to follow our examples. We tell them to be kind. We tell them to love each other. We tell them to support each other and help each other instead of choosing to hate each other and lash out against each other. In other words, we choose to be united.
So right now I’d like to challenge you to be kind. I’d like to challenge you to be supportive. I’d like to challenge you to choose to forgive. I’d like to challenge you to help others without expecting to be repaid. I’d like to challenge you–even when you feel safe behind your computer screen–to make comments that uplift others. Make helpful suggestions. Offer support and a listening ear. Disagree respectfully. And let’s teach our children to do these things too.