I was looking forward to exploring my own process in the hopes that I found something uplifting or useful for you.
I was good to go.
Then Paris happened. And Nigeria. My Facebook feed has been consumed with conflicting posts just as the news is full of headlines in capital letters and politicians tell us what we should do. We are surrounded handwringing and fear and reaction and and and...
We absorb and tell ourselves stories every day. Stories that help us get out of bed and go to work. Stories that remind us of our goals, purpose and relationships. Stories that give us a reason to keep going. The stories we tell are the roadmap for how we live.
Right now I am hearing story after story based in fear. My heart breaks.
I've been thinking about the stories we tell when we are afraid. The stories that we hope will keep us safe by assuring each other that if we only do this, then that will never happen here.
So many of the stories I see in the news and social media make me afraid, not because of the terrorist attacks but because I'm afraid the terrorists are succeeding in their goals.
I am reading horrific statements from people I love, implying the depth of their fear.
Muslims are the problem. They are evil.
Don't admit any refugees because there may be terrorists among them. Why treat them as if they are human and in need if there is any risk?
Send troops and let's kill them all. Their lives don't matter, certainly they matter less if it will keep us safe.
These stories create more division and fear. Fear drives us to tell stories we know are lies, but they offer us comfort. It is easier to blame a faceless mass of people than it is to look for ways to change the narrative entirely. I am not denying the horror. I am not denying the risk and danger. I am suggesting that we have a choice in how we respond and perhaps we should look at the broad nature of the stories we are telling.
Most Muslims are not evil. Most people are not evil. And we all are capable of evil acts.
Most refugees only want safety for themselves and their children. Enough food. A safe place to rest.
I don't know the answers here. None of us do; if we did these things wouldn't be happening.
I do know it isn't cut and dry, there is complex history here let alone our own animal nature to respond to fear with violence.
I do know some of you will be upset by this blog post and will choose not to read me any more. That's okay.
I do know, and this is the point of this blog post, stories create a deep response in our brains, so the stories we tell influence our actions.
When we tell stories about a generic enemy and the need for retaliation we create one kind of world. If we tell stories that certainly acknowledge the evil that exists but also leave room for compassion and hope, we create another. We don't have to be blind to be compassionate.
Any one of us could be the problem.
Any one of us could be a refugee.
Any one of us could lose our child to war be they a soldier or a victim.
Evil is in the way the story is told.
Humanity is created when we listen to each other's stories.
As Brother Blue said over and over, when we listen to each other, we all become brothers.
What would happen if we told different stories? How would that change our lives?
(c)2015 Laura S. Packer