How do we fix a broken society?
You might ask the question in a different way, but I’d put money on the fact that most of us have considered the heart of this question over the last week. Pipe bombs. Stabbings. Shootings. Hate Crimes. I am broken hearted for the world my girls will grow up in. I was in grade school when things like the Olympic Park bombing and Columbine shooting happened. Those events would own the headlines for weeks on end. Now horrific events such as these stay above the fold for a hand full of news cycles before being replaced by the next incident.
An intolerance of dissent and differences within humanity has paved a way for events I don’t want to have to explain to my kids. Are there things beyond intolerance which have contributed to the societal breakdown? Of course. However, in days like these, I find myself looking for answers amidst the series of tragedies we have witnessed in recent years:
- Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston
- Pulse Nightclub in Orlando
- Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas
- Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg
I am saddened by each of these events (along with the many others we could mention), by the loss of innocent lives, and by the reality that avoidable tragedies like this are happening far too often. The acceleration of terrorism, hate, and tragedy has only grown in my lifetime.
How do we begin to melt what has become a snowball of hate, violence, and intolerance? Things like legislation and political reform will slow down these expressions of hate for a season, but hate is crafty – it will find a way to manifest itself. The truth is we care about doing more than slowing it down – we want to get rid of it!
Here are 4 ways to combat hate and begin to melt the snowball of it in our culture:
- Reject elitism – go ahead and lay down your need to feel elite. Somehow we all have this innate desire to feel more important than others. Lay it down. Battle it by actually treating others like they are more important than you. Value others above yourself.
- Embrace differences – instead of being judgmental of those who are different than you go ahead and chose to embrace differences. PSA – you can love and embrace people even when their values or lifestyle are different than yours. It might be the most Jesus-like thing you do all day.
- Express kindness – the external expression of valuing others is to act with kindness. The amazing thing about kindness is that it is contagious. Kindness begets kindness. You might not be able to stop every bad thing happening in the world but you can affect your community with one kind act.
- Avoid divisiveness – hate is nourished in a divisive “us and them” mentality. The minute someone becomes a “them” in your mind you allow a divide that creates space for hate. You would be surprised how much you have in common with those who seem so very different than yourself. The nature of people is to protect “us” and be skeptical of “them.”
Those 4 actions will not bring back the people we have lost. They will not heal the pain of those most closely affected. They will, however, cultivate within me, within my household and within my community a culture that makes it harder and harder for hate to flourish. Your action might not change the world – but it is at least a step. It is a step we so desperately wish everyone else would take, so why not start with you and me?