It's Time to Build a Caring Culture

Have you ever said something in anger and then regretted it?  Or perhaps out of bitterness of past experiences in our life we’ve said something and unintentionally hurt someone.  

There is a magical solution ...
We can always push the reset or refresh button at any time to remove those words we said by apologizing.
We can push the reset button to change our attitude.
We can push the reset button to rid ourselves of anxiety.
We can push the reset button to rid ourselves of fear.
We can push the reset button to forgive ourselves.
We can start over again.
Whenever we want.
We have control to do that at any moment of any day,
 of any week, 
of any month, 
of any year.
We have control to change our thought processes, our speech, our mindset, our attitude towards ourselves and others.  We are our own Change Master.
We have the control to care for others.  True, we certainly can’t care for everyone – we would burn out.  Human beings were never intended to carry their burdens all alone – burdens such as divorce, financial ruin, heartbreak, grief, sickness, and yes, even aging, nor are we meant to sit back in a comfy recliner like the quarterback of life and judge others.  How many times have you used the reason, “I’ve got my own problems” or “I don’t have time”?  Be honest.  Have you used this excuse with dear friends or family?  What about someone who has really ticked you off?  Do you let it simmer until it eats you up inside thereby making you miserable and not able to enjoy life? 
This is where hope, patience and prayer plays a part.  Hoping your friend or family member changes, praying they do,  patience with yourself to be non-judgemental as they explore their options to facilitate their personal change and giving advice when asked.  (Yes, it's hard to be quiet at times:)   After all, we know how hard it is to change, we need to cut them some slack.   Most importantly, when we push our own 'reset' button we need to be patient with ourselves.  Change is hard but so worth it in the end. πŸ€—
Thanks to the perception of ‘progress’, society has the ability to hide behind their iPad, iPhone, and computers to surf the internet and say what they think without considering the feelings of others.  It’s a quick ‘text’ or ‘comment’ and who cares what others think or feel.   Right? Oh, we've all been there ... be honest πŸ˜‰  
We have lost our ability to listen, show empathy and care enough to help one another who is experiencing a hard time in life.  Those skills have been lost in social media and by journalists and reporters around the world.  During my 25 years of counselling others,  I can tell you that unless you address the feelings and get to the heart of the matter, change is next to impossible.   Address the underlying feelings first, then you can get to the logic of a solution.   Those skills of listening and empathy to seek  understanding are critical to establishing a caring culture within the home, our communities and for our own well-being. 
We ask ourselves,
Do we have genuine compassion for others (or ourselves) who are experiencing hardship?  
Do we have affection for others (or ourselves) yet do not follow through with action?
Do we say, “How awful?” and not do anything about it?    Yes, it’s true, we cannot take on all the hardship throughout the world, but we can make small differences that matter.
It looks hard to be willing to help others or ourselves, yet the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

The Goose Formation
When geese fly, they fly in a V formation.  When the head ‘goose’ gets tired, the next goose comes to the front to take on the headwind while the tired goose eases back in the formation where the air current is not as strong and he gets natural 'lift' from the geese ahead of him.   Geese get it.  They work together to help the one who is burdened; they 'lift him up' so when he is able to,  he can lead again.    Why don't humans help one another?  

When someone you love is weak from sickness or a life trauma,  we are designed to carry the weight of carrying and helping others.   We are not designed to do it alone!   
Everyone is different and we need to have different personalities so we can see things from different perspectives and find an acceptable solution.  There are times when we won’t agree with someone else’s values or perspective, but that shouldn’t prevent us from helping them when they need help.   Waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment to reach out and help is not the solution.  Nor is waiting for the 'perfect time' to ask for help for ourselves a solution either.
Authentic listening happens when we don’t get angry when we don’t agree with someone.  (That one is a tough one especially when we are close to someone and they are really pushing our buttons! )  We need to LISTEN before speaking to do our part to understand.  “Seek first to understand.”  

We need to tune into the hearts of others, not their words and that’s a real challenge.
It’s hard – especially for older generations as one word can bring the whole house down.  Yet it is important to never give up.   
Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and all the other ‘apps’ we are experiencing a ‘Cancel Culture’ where in one click, we can thrust people aside who don’t agree with you or ‘delete’ friends who don’t agree with you.  
It’s time to nurture a Caring Culture.  A simple way to start is to exercise empathy, actively listen, and understand where others are coming from.  You don't have to 'fix' anything - you just have to 'listen'. 
I love this poem, “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins” by Mary Lathrap.  Originally titled, “Judge Softly” Mary was known at the time as the “Daniel Wester of Prohibition” She identified with the progressive women of Michigan as a suffragist and temperance reformer.   She was a trail-blazer; a kindred spirit!   The poem reads as heavily influenced by the conditions of Native Americans both on and off reservations.  It has even more influential meaning today because of our diverse cultures around the world.
My grandmother was a suffragist.  My mother was a Sunday School Teacher.  They would remind me, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-2.   A reminder that perfection in life would never be attained – we are  human after all!  We could only do the best we could each day, just as others can do.  We never knew what others were going through and patience and understanding were required.    I constantly remind myself to ‘embrace my imperfections’ – it helps me to remember not to apply the standards of perfection to others.      And of course, the second thing, get your own house cleaned up before judging others and help others who are having difficulty.   The third thing, "If you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all."   I admit it - my imperfections are noted!πŸ˜€  
My Mom lived her life by the meaning of this poem as I imagine Mary did as well. My Grandmother's and  Mom’s values helped shape me into becoming a counsellor and helping many overcome life’s burdens.   Compassion, Kindness, Empathy and Understanding were relevant then and they are relevant today.   Mom was always reaching out to someone she knew in difficulty – baking a pie, taking flowers, phoning to visit on the phone or going in person to visit and most importantly listening without judging and without trying to ‘fix’ something.   Her warm smile, understanding and hugs were her specialty.  Even as a shut-in, my Grandmother was always writing letters to those she knew where having troubles.  Visitors were always assured of a good listener and a fabulous cup of instant Maxwell House coffee!  I'd hear Grandama sharing stories that would comfort others as they could see they were not alone, that there was light at the end of the tunnel.   My grandmother's influence has helped me during these lockdowns reminding me to reach out - write blogs, do positive posts and start a group to help others.  
Judge Softly
(Walk a Mile in His Moccasins)
“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know. 
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And its only wisdom and love that your heart contains.
For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize, and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow-minder, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds?
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”
  • By Mary T. Lathrap, 1895
As a child we start out in life and always see the ‘good’ in others.  Somewhere along the line we start to see the ‘faults’ of others.  Perhaps it's because we surround ourselves with 'fault finders' and we become one, or perhaps we just get caught up in the social media ugliness.  Are you sick of the ugly things we are seeing in our world?  Like the ugly hearts, souls, minds, and actions?  Then it’s time to build a caring culture. 

Our challenge today is to create a Caring Culture or to contribute to one you know of.   To reach out in person, to hear a voice, to phone, to zoom, to visit in person.  To practice our listening and empathy skills.  To connect with the heart of others.   To focus on positive social media posts rather than post and circulate the ugly hurtful ones. 
To become the seeker of “Good” within others.  To help others find their internal spark so they too can shine through their darkness.  

I'm going to continue to give it my best.  Are you ready?   

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