Why I keep doing this even when the world seems so dark
Another day in America, and another mass shooting. Collectively we recoil once again from the news, the suffering, the fear. We again look over our shoulders into the faces of strangers. We wonder again about the wisdom of going to that concert or that big public gathering next week. We argue. We propose tidy solutions. We pray. And in our worst moments, we sit in despair and wonder how—and why—we keep putting one foot in front of the other, if things are just going to end up like this.
I had one of those days yesterday, as the weight of it pressed down on me. Why bother? I can’t solve this. Even good laws can’t keep this from happening. If humans are choosing to solve their pain by causing pain to others, why am I bothering to devote my life to serving them?
It was a long, long day.
For a word geek like me, there’s a special little thrill that comes with learning a new-to-me word which seems to capture something heretofore uncapturable. This week’s word was “brutiful.”
It’s a word originally coined – I think – by author and speaker Glennon Doyle:
“Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, (you) reject the beauty.”
(Meet Glennon, momastery.com)
I think approximately two gazillion people learned this word before I did, but that doesn’t take away from my delight at finding it. What better way to describe today’s world? What better amulet to wear into battle as a member of the Love Army?
By any yardstick, what’s happening in the world right now is brutal. Just plain brutal. Not just in terms of violence and mayhem, but also in terms of things like what types of people are being idolized, what kinds of lies are being ignored, and how we’re being controlled and dehumanized by different forces.
What’s happening in RESPONSE to this, however, is breathtakingly beautiful. People who’ve never spoken out against injustice are marching, shouting, writing. People who don’t consider themselves the least bit courageous are putting their bodies on the line to protect people who are suffering. People who have never volunteered in their lives are out in the community, boots on the ground, showing their love and support to those who need it most.
And it’s a beauty we may never have seen, if not for the brutal turn the world seems to be taking in response to its fears.
There’s no guarantee that the beauty will “win,” whatever that means. For me, that’s really not the point. What matters is that the minds, hearts, hands, and feet of good people everywhere are all pointing in the same direction…toward compassion, toward connection, toward creative solutions.
It’s happening in our personal lives and also in our businesses. On any given day, I am in contact with a dozen people whose work in the world is designed with the specific purpose of making something better. Small businesses, I’ve said, are going to save the world.
We have to have a plan to deal with tragedy, however, because it isn’t going to go away any time soon, and we can’t afford to be immobilized by it. Everyone has his/her own way, but mine roughly follows this timeline:
Learn the facts, then step away. I resist the temptation to learn every detail, or to compulsively watch the news updates.
Grieve. I don’t stuff it down or deep-dive into distractions. We are human beings, and we have a basic goodness within us. I don’t deny myself the time to feel the sadness I feel. But then…
Find out how to help, and do one thing to contribute to the healing process. This page, for example, lists some ways to help the people of Sutherland Springs, where the latest mass shooting took place. I donated to the fund to help the church, and also wrote a letter to the church expressing my love and support (First Baptist Church, 216 4th St, Sutherland Springs, TX 78161)
Turn your gaze back to your own life, and pump up your own efforts to do good in the world. It won’t stop all people from choosing ugly acts, but it will push back against it with the power of good.
Even if things continue to go hell sans handbasket, it’s the love and the trying and the courage that will be with me when I leave this earth, rather than the fear and the cowardice that I might’ve let keep me in fear and denial.
I will not turn my eyes from the brutal. But I will throw in my lot—and my work in the world—with those who are fighting back with love, in a million beautiful ways.
Thanks for stopping by!
If you have a heart-based business and this message resonated with you, I’d love to have you keep in touch (in times like these, having a community of people who ‘get’ us can make all the difference between a great day and “I’m just going back to bed”). Here are some ways:
- I send out a monthly email missive with stuff of interest to people like us – from non-geeky tech tips, to new resources for small businesses and freelancers, to feelgood stories of what’s working out there. Give it a try and see if it’s of interest to you.
- I’m on Facebook at https://facebook.com/websitesforgood and we have some great conversations there. It’s also a great place to see new writings of all kinds.
- Think about a free 30-minute consultation with me to tell me what you’re up to, talk through new ideas or directions for your work, or talk about how to better tell your story online.
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