This is part of a flower arrangement I picked up this morning for a friend on the way to work. And wow, it sure didn’t turn out to be the transaction I was expecting.
As I walked in the door, I was startled by the Santas and holiday decorations saturating the entire floral section. Not just a few items here and there scattered among fall leaves and pilgrims. Oh, no. I mean, you would think that Thanksgiving had already come and gone. I teased the florist as she rang up my flowers about the early yuletide that was blanketing the area. She sighed and said, “You know, we weren’t scheduled to put out Christmas merchandise for another couple of weeks. But customers were asking for it.” Really, I asked??? “People are so depressed about the election and everything that is going on right now,” she explained. “They just want to be happy about something. They’re looking forward, past this stuff.”
My jaw dropped.
She went on to tell me that some of her elderly regulars were visiting the store more often lately. She said that they’re avoiding watching television and don’t know what to do with themselves — because television is usually so important to their day. The news is depressing them. So now several of them are congregating at the grocery store for coffee every morning to feel better.
I hate how much we’re hurting. How frightened we are. How this disease of hatred, paranoia, and prejudice is being normalized and validated, causing us all to suffer from the sickness. It makes me want to do better. To be better. To make things better.
As good fortune would have it, I found a really great article that got me thinking in the right direction: “Empathy: Medicine for a Wounded World” from Spirituality & Health. I will be focusing on #8:
“Work toward radical empathy. Having empathy for someone who has harmed you is the toughest to achieve: this is known as radical empathy. For example, you may have deep empathy for a girl you know whose mom is dying of cancer. But what happens if your boyfriend leaves you for that same girl? It’s a whole different story when that person is perceived to “take something” from you or hurt you in some way. This type of empathy requires prayer and a shedding of the ego—but everyone is capable of it. You can begin in small doses—when someone is rude to you, respond with kindness. This is the only way the world is going to change. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.””
Geez Louise. I really need that one. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s the toughest one in the bunch — but it’s my biggest opportunity to improve and the best place to start. So I’ll see how it goes, as I’m not sure if I’m even capable of that kind of empathy. But I’ll try. No matter what, I hope this all really does end soon — and we begin to heal.