Writing Love on Purpose
Contributor

Freedom of speech is precious. Each word has the potential to raise others high or bring them lower than the dirt beneath us. Words can be beautiful and harmful. Encouraging and detrimental. Condemning and powerful.

But, in the end, they are just words.

The most frightening aspect of communication is that we all have the power to grant purpose to our words. Do I express my opinion? Keep it within? Greet someone? Nurture a friendship? Mend a relationship? Break one off?

Choices are made every day, often without a shred of conscious thought. Our words tumble out with emotions as their guide. Still, we all have that choice. Will we speak life? Or will we close ourselves to others? 

I want to choose love and life every time. I want my words to be perpetually rooted in kindness. Why is it so difficult? 

Intent is powerful as well. Most of us do not intend to ostracize others. We breeze through news and articles and find ourselves thinking: 

"Who would do that to (him, them, her)?"

"How can someone be so (racist, sexist, closed-minded)?"

"Why can't people just (agree, forgive, control themselves)?"

I am guilty. We all are guilty. And yet ... 

Our opinions still fuel us. Ramp us up. Compel a desire to be heard and understood. In a flash, clear-cut right and wrong fade away. Daily. Sometimes hourly.

For me, the issue is setting aside my emotions in favor of understanding individuals. People. Every other person who shares this world with me deserves love and respect. I passionately believe this. Do I always get it right? Heck no. Far from it.

With social media comes a forceful urge to express ourselves. In a short timespan, the ability to spread everything inside of us has exploded. We share it all. Food, vacations, ups, downs, thoughts we find profound, situations we found inane ... all of it viewable to the world with a few clicks or taps.

It can be wonderful. Inspiring. Uplifting.

Horrifying ...

How often have we seen posts such as these:

"If you voted for or support (insert the name of any influential person you will never meet), unfriend me."

"If you believe (insert any current issue which evokes a strong emotional response), don't speak to me."

This choice to segregate others hurts my heart every time I see it. A line is drawn. Friends and family are separated. Uncomfortable. Unable to connect or bring up certain topics. Our words have effectively broken important relationships. 

"But, those issues are important!"

They absolutely are. That is a true statement. But, what is more important?

People. Individuals. People like me with pasts, reasons, choices, regrets, sorrow.

As soon as anger is directed at people instead of the underlying issues themselves, we are guilty of being narrow-minded. If a group of people elicits a negative emotional response, we are already there. Democrats, conservatives, Koreans, Christians, wealthy people, Hispanics, homeless people, thieves, saints, bikers, Catholics, homophobes, Packers fans, soccer enthusiasts, gamers, liars, sinners.

We are all the same. The darkest corners of our regrets, the ones we tirelessly strive to conceal, travel straight through our hearts. If we are not careful, they make it out of our mouths.

That person who voted for the politician you will never meet but feel compelled to hate? That guy who always cheers loudly for the other team? That woman who breastfeeds in public unashamed? That group always protesting in favor of something you find repugnant?

Their experiences drive them. If we are open-minded enough to choose love over writing them off, we open ourselves to growth. Knowledge. We make ourselves available to learn the way of another.

A girl who lost a sister due to an abortion gone wrong couldn't bring herself to vote for Hilary.

A foreign legal man who loves his brother despite the fact that he entered the country illegally could not vote for Trump.

That guy loves his sports team because it was the only connection he had to his drunken, now-deceased father.

The woman who lost her first child to infection which may have been linked to formula wants to make a statement.

The straight kids who walk in a Pride parade after a ridiculed gay friend committed suicide want to show their support.

Stories come to light. Reasons. Relatable experiences. Pain that should trigger an emotional response in all of us. The stories do not have to be extreme, but they should be heard. Respected. Even if we do not agree. We can still choose to listen and understand a differing perspective. Agreeing and understanding do not have to be linked to settle into respect.

"I may not agree, but now I understand them."

Stop there. Resist the urge to argue/persuade/bully someone to "your side". There should be no "sides" in life.

At the end of the day, I will struggle to listen and seek understanding. To practice love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

What are your reasons? What will you choose?

Would you make the choice to stand against hatred in all forms? It's an exceedingly difficult task. Perhaps before you make that post, boost that article slamming a group of people, write that text, email, or response, take a moment to ask yourself; what impact will I make? Negative? Am I okay with possibly making my friends and family uncomfortable? Do I want them to feel that I am closed-minded to this subject and refuse to listen to their views? 

Or do I speak life? Love? Spread joy? Be kind despite my beliefs? Seek to understand why someone chooses an opposite thought process or belief? Let go of my judgment?

When I write, I will choose to keep love at the center. I may not agree, but I will seek to understand. If I am understood in the process, then I will take it as a bonus.

Let's be friends

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