The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy – Martin Luther King
This quote is tough and makes me a bit uncomfortable. For most people (including me) we don’t want to alienate others so we try to stay out of politics and controversial matters. This is especially true in our divided world and place of political correctness. I have a lot of respect for Martin Luther King and what he accomplished in his life. So, I try to study his principles and learn from his experiences.
My spiritual encounters have also led me to practice connection with others and promote peace. But now; I am called to find ways to practice these principles when standing up for what I believe is right.
To add fuel to this fire; because of my recent columns suggesting that we not focus on the negative things in life; but focus on the positive, a reader recently sent me this message:
Help us all to visualize what we can do about the things that MAKE us so unhappy other than ignore them and “accentuate the positive.” How do we avoid sticking our heads in the sand and hoping someone else will fix these negatives? I struggle to swallow the negativity but then feel as if I’m trying to live in a fantasy world where it’s all rainbows and sunshine. Thanks for reminding me to avoid being dragged into the negativity. Now maybe you can help us figure out how to speak out against these nasty people without being ugly ourselves.
Wow. My first reaction was maybe there is no good answer; But after a bit of soul searching, I realized my error. Over time, I have learned the things that make me uncomfortable are sometimes lessons I need to learn. So, I asked for guidance and took a deep breath; and developed 10 guidelines that can bring about change and make a positive impact.
#1. Be civil – Ranting and raving turns people off. Ranting = no one listening to you.
#2. Don’t get personal – Don’t make negative personal remarks against those that oppose your views. This also turns everyone off and shuts down their ability to hear your position.
# 3 – Practice Nonviolence in your actions and words. For many the “words” part is hard to practice, but it works.
# 4 – Communicate with those both who support and oppose your views. I have a good friend who has different political views from me. We are able to debate issues without getting personal. When this happens, we both learn something.
# 5 – Join and become active in non-profits or faith based organizations who support your beliefs. For example, if you support refugees fleeing violence, reach out to them; they are in your community. Help them get jobs or learn our languages. Connect with them and lend support.
# 6 – Elected officials and political leaders – reach out to them and incorporate items 1 – 4 in your communications. Also, try to establish a relationship with someone on their staff and stay in communications. Many are easier to reach than you think.
# 7 – Vote – always vote in every local, state and national election. Unfortunately, you can’t believe most of the political ads anymore, so do your research and vote and support candidates who closely align with your values.
#8 – Take a stand “for” your cause; not against someone else’s cause. Be clear and concise with your message.
#9 – Love Thy “Opposition– It’s all about love; treat them with respect. Who knows, they may one day become your ally. You gain more traction if everyone is treated with respect.
Think about the King James version of Matthew 5:44 – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
# 10 – Believe in yourself. Everyday people come out of nowhere and make a huge difference in the world. This could be you. Remember neither Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa were groomed for their role in life.
I believe using these guiding principles to bring about change can be our first step towards making our world a better place. They can also be a tool in reducing the division in our world and our country.
So, I urge you to grab a family member, or friend or go solo. Get outside and go for a walk and talk and define your passion. Where do you want to make a difference? Try these rules along the way.
Are you in?
© October 2017