Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Choose your thoughts wisely. Your actions will follow them.

I’ve heard that Courtland Milloy wrote a column in the Washington Post that encouraged violence toward cyclists.  
What was in Mr. Milloy’s column?  I honestly don’t know for sure, because I haven’t read it. Nor do I intend to.  I’ve read many responses to it… enough that I get the gist.  

If you take it at face value, Mr. Milloy uses ignorance and an over-inflated sense of self importance to promote hatred and violence against people that he doesn’t understand.  "Bicyclists are in front of me.  Many of them don’t obey traffic laws.  I’m important and need to be at the front of the line.  We should all be violent toward cyclists.  We’re justified in feeling this way."

Using ignorance and self-importance to promote an “us versus them” atmosphere and justify hatred and violence is nothing new.  But it is a thought that we should challenge before we make it our own.  It is the same thought patterns that have resulted in the most horrific actions taken by mankind over the centuries.  I’m not saying that Mr. Milloy is on the same level as those who took part in the Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide or the abuses at Abu Graib prison, but the roots of his thought patterns have a lot in common with those used to justify those dark times in human history.

If DON’T take Mr. Milloy’s column at face value, then things get worse.  We see things like this in the media quite often.  Writers and editors look for someone outwardly hate and vilify for personal and corporate gain. Since hatred based upon gender, sexual preference and race is less sympathetic in the media than it once was, they can pick on someone else:  Cyclists, for example.  Some readers will agree.  There will be a large, but acceptably offensive public discussion and people will read the awful column.  The column’s web site will get lots of hits and the advertisers will be thrilled.  When a suitable amount of outrage has been expressed, the newspaper can publish a well thought out article countering this column, and lots of people will read that and people will think the newspaper is balanced and fair again.  Best of all, the newspaper gets LOTS of hits and the advertisers will be happy.  

I have friends and acquaintances that work at The Washington Post.  I apologize for taking such a realistic view of their publication.  Stories like this happen once every year or two… sometimes in print, sometimes on radio talk shows.  They blow up, stir up, blow over and fade away.  Advertisers love it!  Not too many really think that it can do much harm.  

I chose to live my life differently.  My world is bigger than me… much bigger.  It includes humanity, which I love, even though people do stuff that I don’t like.  I’m able to love the people, while not loving some of their actions.  It makes forgiveness possible.  I’m fortunate that there are people who forgive me when I’m wrong.  I live in a world where I work pretty hard to have positive interactions with EVERYONE that I meet.  I don’t always succeed, but I always try and I get it right the vast majority of the time.  I arrive at home at night and keep score of my day based upon how many people I treated fairly and kindly.  I rejoice and am grateful for every one who did the same for me.  I learn from the times that I don’t do so well and improve next time.

Sounds  a lot better to me than being ignorant, self-important, hateful and violent.  

Please take a moment to choose how you’re going to live your life tomorrow.  Make that choice wisely, and in accordance with your highest sense of right.  It makes a huge difference to me how you choose.

Thanks!  I love you.