I was sitting at my desk when I received a text that read, “Why have they stormed and invaded the U.S. Capitol?” My first thought was, who and why?
Then, news of the U.S. Capitol being sieged by American citizens was all over the internet, and I have to admit, I didn’t have that on my Bingo card.
My second thought was, wow! Is 2021 actually 2020’s angrier step cousin? I had been thinking that things could not get any worse. But then, this happened, and I suddenly found myself at a crossroads between hope and despair. In that moment, I realized the gravity of this daunting situation and knew that I had a decision to make.
Would I allow myself to be overtaken by feelings of uncertainty and instability that seem to be growing by the day? Or would I steady myself and face this nation’s violent political and ideological storm with steely determination to press on and do my part to make things better?
To that end, I have resolved to do five things that will better equip me to face and overcome the challenges that the new year has already brought. Perhaps, they will be useful to you, as well:
- Do not be ruled by emotions. In times of crisis or uncertainty, do not allow the amygdala, the region of our brains that triggers our fight or flight response, to hijack our emotions. When this happens, our decision-making ability can be compromised. Try breathing, slowing down and focusing our thoughts to make sure that our response is not fueled by raging emotions.
- Avoid inflammatory language. Paulo Coelho once said, “…of all the weapons of destruction that could be invented, the most terrible — and the most powerful — was the word. Daggers and spears left traces of blood; arrows could be seen at a distance. Poisons were detected in the end and avoided. But the word managed to destroy without leaving clues.” Try seasoning our words with grace. Even ugly truths do not have to be delivered in a bludgeoning manner.
- Extend a little grace to others. Let us be honest. None of us will get it right 100 % of the time. We are prone to offend in word or deed at some point. Therefore, try to be respectful of diversity of thought, even in moments of disagreement. Work to understand where others may be coming from and what motivates their actions before launching a full-fledged attack. It is important to reason together and re-employ the lost art of civility in our dialogues. Remember, not agreeing does not mean that we have to be disagreeable in our delivery or demeanor.
- Unsubscribe from “Cancel Culture.” It is trendy now to cancel anyone who does not agree with our point of view. One misstep, and their downfall is imminent. Unsubscribing from cancel culture requires extending grace, because it is impossible to work towards understanding and reconciliation if we cannot even have a conversation. Try employing this bit of wisdom: be quick to listen, slow to respond, and even slower to become angry. Once anger and wrath take over, nothing good comes of it.
- Work on self-improvement. I am reminded of the story about the angry driver who exclaimed, “People really need to learn how to drive. This is the third accident I have been involved in today!” The question is, could the driver possibly have been at fault in any way? In his mind, others’ faulty actions, and theirs alone, caused the collisions. It is always good to examine our role in a situation to see what we might have done to contribute to negative outcomes and see how we can improve in the future. Making the world better begins with making you better.
As we all navigate these tumultuous and uncertain times together, I appreciate your efforts to make the Medaille community a place where we can have an open exchange of ideas that will push us toward building a better community for everyone.
Let us be even more intentional in 2021 in our efforts to be Buffalo’s College by taking advantage of everyday opportunities to make a positive impact in the lives of our students, faculty and staff. Despite all that is going on around us, still, it’s a great (
day) year to be a Maverick!