compassion swans

This morning I woke up to see the #sendforgivenessviral hash tag going viral in my news feed, following Waleed Aly’s sensible and intelligent plea to circulate forgiveness and kindness, rather than hatred and anger.

Waleed Aly is journalist doing his best to inject goodness into the world, rather than fear, and thankfully we have at least one voice of reason we can hang our thoughts and Facebook comments on.

Sonia Kruger’s comments. Trump’s nomination as Republican candidate. Terror attacks in Nice. The coup in Turkey. There’s a lot to be concerned and scared about. And our social media comments and comments on media new sites take flight with a wave of vitriol.

In the past, bad stuff happened. We saw it on the 7 o’clock news. We felt sad/bad/something for the victims. We might have even felt concerned for our own safety. We talked about our concerns around the dinner table. Or maybe over the fence with a neighbour. We did our best to share our views and concerns with friends and others who represented our beliefs. We voted people into parliament who stood for our beliefs and made us feel safer and more comfortable in the world.

The same is true today. But now we also have a global audience at our fingertips. And so do our media sites. It’s no longer just the post person and your neighbour to vent with. It’s a global community.

I don’t linger in the comment section of media new sites long, if at all. I’ve received my own viscous comments in response to well intentioned, fairly gentle articles. I’ve seen and tried to report racial attacks and religious discrimination. {Thank you for making time to report this, however we deem this comment to be within our regulations.}

Back in the day, I faced aggression and threats in none other than a natural parenting support group. I was there to be part of something gentle and supportive. But when I expressed my views in favour of vaccination, I was hounded out of the group and felt worse than I ever felt in the playground at school. Kids can be cruel. But adults much more so.

With hatred, fear and bigotry dominating our news feed and forums, it’s hard not to experience these emotions too, as we cling onto something in the form of safety and belonging.

But goodness, like kindness, begins at home and in our own Facebook updates.

Like many, I’m very good at directing hatred and fear inwards. Years of self-sabotage in high school diaries has not lost its habitual effect. Now, self loathing is usually linked with guilt about my short comings as a parent.

The online world is continually trying to shun parental guilt. I personally think, for our children’s sake at least, guilt is a useful emotion. We do something less than good for our children. We feel bad about it. We change {or try to change} our behaviour.

But that’s where it should end. Guilt shouldn’t then fester into self-loathing. We need to forgive ourselves, and get on with being a good parent.

The same could be true for all our relationships.

Fortunately, I don’t have many negative relationships in my life. But the few I have seems to chew up a ridiculous amount of data. What about the hundred other positive, wonderful relationships in my life? Why aren’t I fanning their fire?

I’m mindful of how my own negativity affects not only those relationships, but me. The more vitriol I speak, the more vitriol I create, and hate gets bigger and stronger, like Voldemort.

Every time we express unnecessary hate or anger in Facebook or in a comment we are also fanning that fire. We are growing that Voldemort and making that fear and hatred stronger.

We can’t undo the fact that Donald Trump is nominated to run for Presidency. We can’t stop celebrities and radio hosts making bigotry comments, and rallying hatred. But we can stop hanging on the tails of that hatred and fear. We can spark small, positive fires in the kind-ling of our own hearts, homes and Facebook feeds. We can garden. Crochet. Read books. Speak nicely to one another.

I might not be a revolutionist, but I believe small positive change is possible. And like Waleed says, it’s starts with forgiveness. Spark your positive fire, friends.

  • Linda Woodrow

    Lovely post.