Is a kinder world possible?

What’s happening to us?

We’re living through challenging times, for sure, and our stress is showing.

There are many loud voices these days, each side trying to shout, shame, and ridicule the other side down.

Whether it’s about COVID, the election, or one of the other issues confronting society today, bullying, shaming, name-calling, and threats of violence seem to be escalating. In a stressed society, there seems to be so much to fight about.

Recently, in an endeavour to educate myself about various candidates’ platforms for the upcoming election, I was stopped cold in my tracks.

The vast majority of comments posted in response to candidates’ platform statements were attacks and name-calling, without adding anything constructive to the conversation. It was like listening to bullies in the school yard, each trying to out-shout and belittle the other. I’m sure the anonymity provided by social media makes it easier to ridicule and attack.

It was interesting how much of the ridicule was personal, not focussed on the topic at hand, and became about taking personal shots at people, instead of the issues. Deriding a person’s age, gender, intelligence, or ethnicity has nothing to do with the greater issues.

While I don’t want to sound naïve or moralistic, I have to question if a hateful modus-operandi does anything to help us solve our problems to create a better society. Or, will it be the loudest and the rudest voices that win?

It’s easy to get pulled into the fray, as the animalistic parts of our brains begin to fire at perceived attack. But when this happens, the fight-flight-freeze-or-fade response is activated, and the rational part of our brain goes offline. We say and do things we’d never do under normal circumstances and we don’t bring our best selves to the conversation.

With so much reason for division, we can all get triggered. When I do, I’ve found it very helpful to remember to pause, and take a few deep breaths before responding. I’ve found pausing to calm myself allows me to bring a clearer mind to help me engage in meaningful conversation.

It seems it’s becoming more common for us to shout about what we disagree with than to lend our voices to what we support. I’m compassionately curious if this is a symptom of the great uncertainty of our times, yet know it’s not how we’ll arrive at a solution we can live with.

It’s vital we become clearer about what we stand for rather than what we stand against. I’m curious about how our society would look if we put greater energy into supporting what we want, to those things we support, than into trying to tear down what we don’t want.

If we’re unclear about what we actually want to create in our society, sound advice that’s served me well is to look at what I don’t want first, and then turn 180 degrees in the opposite direction. That’s where I’ll find my answer.

I’ve long subscribed to the wisdom of Mother Teresa, who is quoted as saying, “I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”

No wonder I love Jewel’s song lyric, “No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from.”

I’m curious about how our world would look if we spent more time building up what we believe in rather than trying to tear down what we oppose.

I believe we’d create a kinder world, the one most of us would like to live in.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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