It’s been four years since I published my book, Connected. On this anniversary month, I wanted to reflect on where I’ve been over the last four years and what my beliefs are now regarding this book and its topic.
Now, writing about how I feel about community seems more relevant than ever.
I’m having trouble putting all my thoughts and feelings into words right now, just like I know many of you are as well. How many more massacres do we have to experience before things change? How normal is this type of tragedy beginning to feel?
In the last four years, so many tragedies have happened. In the wake of those tragedies I’ve seen numerous people, communities, and organizations step up to the call and answer to those in need, from the refugee crises to mass murders on our home turf. Regardless of the tragedy, its community that pulls us together again.
What I believe in my heart more than anything…
What I know to be true still, what I believe in my heart more than anything, is that what we do and how we respond to each other matters greatly. It matters more than anything. How a parent raises a child, how a teacher responds to a student, how a boss criticizes an employee, all of that matters. It all adds up to support people, love people, and nourish people or tear them down, destroy them, and make monsters out of them.
It’s our job as community members to see people for who they are – human beings—and to love them unconditional. Regardless of what country they are from, what religion they practice, or what skin color they were born with.
Here’s what I know to be true:
- We all need each other.
- We all belong to each other – we are one.
- Every life matters.
When people are not operating from this perspective, hate, violence, and crime perpetuates. When we realize we are all connected and that each life truly means something, life is valued and respected. We can see that regardless of our differences, each of us has a valued place here and no one is more “important” than another.
And because I know many of us want to do something to try to make this right again, here’s what I believe we can do, and that collectively, our impact will make changes.
Here’s what I know we can do:
- Take the time to notice people. Pick your head up and “see” someone today. Many of the world’s people are in pain and just need someone to show them they matter again.
- Smile. It’s simple, but so powerful. A smile connects people in a way that no other non-verbal, silent communication can.
- Accept that we are all different and unique. Whether differences of opinion, differences of religion, race, or anything else. Stop fighting with others, judging people, or putting people into a right or wrong category.
- Gain new perspectives and new experiences. Seek out opportunities to learn about other ways of life. The more new experiences you have, whether it’s traveling outside of the country or befriending a person in another religion, these experiences build your tolerance and acceptance of people.
- Stand up for others. If you know a child is being neglected, do something to be that spark in that child’s life. If your boss is an arrogant ass, tell the person who is receiving the brunt of his anger something positive (Man, I thought you did a great job on the project or I know how hard you worked on that. ) If you know someone who is depressed, angry or struggling, intervene in some way. If nothing else, send love their way and embrace them with empathy.
Every life matters. That means YOU matter. That means what you DO matters. We can change the world, but we must do it together. We have to work in peace and with love, but we can make change.
If you need more ideas on how you can create a ripple effect in your community, please check out my book Connected: 101 Ways to Be of Service and Create Community.