Ripple

This isn’t about money. It’s not about race, or religion, or gender, or politics, or what we ate for breakfast. Not really.

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My heart aches as I read about the tragedy in Las Vegas, about the pain inflicted on so many families at once. Those who were injured or killed, their loved ones, the survivors who were somehow spared direct physical injury, the first responders, the medical teams, police, even the mortuary workers… All of these people were directly impacted. Each person will have his or her own version of trauma from the experience. Each person will likely relive various moments over and over. Pain, anger, disbelief, looking for someone or something to blame – these are all effects of trauma. Trauma leaves scars.

But scars mean that there has been healing as well.

Healing requires care. It requires support.

Our bodies, at the most basic, cellular level, know this. When we are wounded, our bodies respond immediately and send their own kind of “first responders” – blood carrying specialized cells to create a safety net that eventually turns into a bruise or a scab, and sometimes, eventually, to a scar. Adrenalin shoots through our limbs, preparing us to fight, flee, or freeze. The pain receptors of the nervous system kick in to help us know things are bad and need to stop. At some point, numbness, often followed by pain. Following the pain, healing.

Our bodies know to respond with vital support.

Our minds and our hearts – our words and our actions – need to follow suit.

This isn’t about money. It’s not about race, or religion, or gender, or politics, or what we ate for breakfast. Not really.

It’s about humanity. About us losing our understanding of what it means to be a living, breathing, loving, hurting, mistake-making, struggling human being.

It’s about recognizing that everyone else is a human, too, and struggling in ways we can’t even guess.

It’s about extending grace and understanding and, when needed, forgiveness to everyone we meet, in person or online or in whatever format.

It’s not a competition over who’s been hurt more or who’s been stepped on or who’s smarter or more well-informed.

None of those things can be quantified and proven, because it is a matter of perspective, resilience factors, personal experiences, and a million other details that are impossible to determine absolutely.

None of those arguments solve the problem. They only increase the divide and exponentially increase the likelihood of additional tragedies perpetrated by those caught up in the rhetoric of whichever side of whichever argument.

In this competition, no one wins.

This isn’t about winning. It’s not about who’s wrong or right.

It’s about holding onto our humanity. Each hateful comment, each hurtful action, feeds the fire of divisiveness and malignancy. It grows the tumor of turmoil and grief.

It’s about peace – individually chosen peace, lived in individual lives, day by day. If we hold peace in our hearts and live it in our actions, if we salute each person on the planet as another living, breathing, struggling human being – just like us – if we remind ourselves of it each time we are provoked to angry reaction – if we just admit we make mistakes, too, and not one of us is perfect – then we do not want to hurt our brothers and sisters in humanity. We leave no ground for hatred and cruelty to take root. We can find within us the strength to offer kindness instead.

If we do this, we might begin to turn the tide of rising tragedy. Even if, as one person, we do not turn the tide, we will not have sped it along. Our contribution will be a drop of kindness in the ocean of humanity, and that drop can ripple out in waves beyond our knowing. At least, for that moment, we might shine a bright light in what is too often a dark world.

That’s a legacy worth leaving behind.

“There is no path to peace. Peace is the path. – Mahatma Gandhi

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

“…be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you.” – The Archbishop Desmond Tutu

-KJ Roe

Notice

Rainbow

I know you.

I know that sometimes you lie awake nights, mind spinning and rewinding and worrying.

I know sometimes you wonder what you’ve done wrong, and sometimes you know it, and sometimes forgiving yourself seems like the hardest thing to do.

I know you wish you could make things better, for yourself, for a friend, for someone you barely know.

Sometimes you sing in the shower, have solo concerts in your car, and dance with abandon around your house.

You pause to listen to the rain rattling on the roof and to admire the rainbow brightening the sky.

You make up plans and dream dreams that you’re not sure will ever come true.

You wonder what the future really holds and how you’re going to survive here and now.

You question, more than you’d like to admit, how you’re going to have the strength to face another day, another challenge, another crisis.

You build castles in the air while working the grind on the ground.

You come home… to a partner, to your kids, to your parents….or to an empty house.

You put on a good face. You stay strong. You keep going.

Some days you look inside yourself and see loneliness and helplessness eating away at you.

Those days you feel alone, adrift, and lost in the universe.

But you’re not.

You are not alone.

I feel it too.

Together, we face the loneliness.

Together, we fight the demons of despair.

Together, we are stronger than our fears.

We are not alone.

You and me, together.

You and me, admiring the rainbows.

~ KJ Roe

Offensive

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Flinging
Barbs like
Throwing stars,
Flaming arrows of
Frustrations
Boiling over
Scalding the nearest
targets,
Watching in grim
satisfaction
Tinged with guilt,
Anger and past
resentments
Held up like a shield;
The will to draw
back the string
Fueled by voices
in our heads
Chanting ‘just desserts’
and ‘consequences’
And reassurances
of being ‘right’
As we watch sparks
Flare into flames
And flames turn into
A blazing inferno
of insults
and raised voices
And offended
Righteousness,
The hatred
burying pain
and fear,
The fists of our
False courage
pummeling blindly;

Then inferno
runs out of fuel
And blaze
collapses into
ashes
And smoky anger
dissipates,
Revealing crushed
dreams and
Broken hopes
And lost relationships-

And we think that
This
is how to
Love.

-KJ Roe

Confession

There is a person that I love, but I am not sure how to tell them.

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There is a person that I love, and I am not sure how to tell them.

They are someone I admire, constantly striving to be a better person. They smile at the cashier and ask in earnest how they’re doing. They work hard to be considerate of other people. They are smart, but are still learning so much. They are creative and hard-working and open.

There is a person that I love, but they are not perfect.

Sometimes they get lost in their own thoughts and miss the obvious. Sometimes they act like people should automatically know what their expectations are. Sometimes they lose their patience. Often, they miss opportunities for kindness and sometimes are even a little selfish.

There is a person that I love, but they don’t always know their worth.

They get down sometimes, although they try not to show it.  They might focus on their faults and need reminders of their strengths. They extend grace and forgiveness, often more than is wise. They occasionally fall into unhealthy relationships. They try to shine God’s love, but forget to reflect it on themselves.

There is a person that I love, but I am afraid it would be awkward to tell them.

Then again, maybe that isn’t important. Maybe what really matters is that they get to know how I feel. Maybe they have days when knowing I care could make all the difference in the world. And it might be awkward, it might come out wrong, people might misconstrue. It may cause issues with those who don’t understand. But they should know. They deserve to know. And so I’ll start with this:

Hello, Me. You matter. You are a glowing creation of God, a being of purpose and wonder. I am happy you’re here. I love you.

-KJ Roe

Kindred

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Photo by http://keywordsuggest.org/236284-laugh.html

There is a language
that draws us all in
A cadence
that builds every bridge
Moments in time
held in crystal clarity
As the joy bubbles
up from within
And breaks out
in a wild dance
Of liberated laughter
And open-mouthed grins
And the music
A symphony of shining eyes.

-KJ Roe

Frankly, My Dear…

People say they don’t like drama. But they love the Scarlet O’Haras of the world.

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Olivia de Havilland as Melanie & Vivien Leigh as Scarlet in Gone With the Wind; image via charmofthecarolines.com

“You’re a very sweet person, but…”

It’s never a good thing when someone starts out a conversation like this. Like they’re trying to soften the blow of whatever it is they’re going to say next by building me up, by acknowledging one of my better traits. But what they’re really doing is discounting it. Saying, You’re a very sweet person, but it doesn’t matter. You’re a very sweet person, but it’s not good enough. Not exciting enough. What they are saying, in essence, is that the best of me is just not “enough” for them.

Really?

People say they don’t like drama. All the time. But they are attracted to it. They love the Scarlet O’Haras of the world. People like the one who draws attention in a crowd, who draws the eye and the ear. They like the one who argues and slams doors and expresses their opinions – loudly. They think that a person who doesn’t do these things is weak and uninteresting. Those ones – the Melanies – are too sweet, too quiet, too – boring.

But the Melanies of the world are tough.They have been hurt and suffered more losses than many people know. They don’t expect other people to carry these burdens for them. They carry their weight. Melanies hold their own cards in this game of life, and they work with whatever hand is dealt them. They keep their poker face, playing each round without throwing in or throwing down their cards. What good would it do? They’d just have to pick them back up again.

Melanies take care of themselves and their families and their homes. They are the ones who give quiet strength and direction to the Scarlets when the Scarlets can’t find their way. They bring presence, observation, and sometimes wisdom to a situation. They have depth and perspective born of experience and introspection. Where a Scarlet brings excitement, Melanies bring peace. Scarlet may be fire, but Melanie is the mesmerizing glow of the coals.

Given the option daily, I choose to be Melanie.

So I don’t drive the drama train. I don’t command the room’s attention. I have opinions, and I will share them, but I will not shout them or demand that others agree. I will not expect that everyone drop what they are doing and focus on me. Why? Because it’s not all about me. I choose to be considerate, to stay positive, and to take the path of kindness. I will be the coals, lambent with the heat of heart and soul.

People don’t have to like it. Heck, people don’t have to like me. If my being “sweet” doesn’t work for some people, that’s fine.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Little Rebellions

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I won’t do it
Live hate and negativity
Telling the children
This is all your life can be
Acting like goodness
Is false – ain’t no positivity
I won’t shut doors
In the face of possibility
Wear blinders to
Kindness, love, and generosity
Close my eyes
To the joyous world it could be

I won’t drink it
The poison of animosity
Shrink my mind
Like little bottles of hostility
Spread the darkness
Of media hypocrisy
I’ll fight it
With everything I can be
Believing in
Faith, hope, and eternity
Giving freely
What little bit I can of me
I won’t give up
On a hill a light I’ll try to be
Live fully
This blessed life God gave to me

We hold out
Our hands and hearts to one in need
We lift up
Our fellow man from murky deep
Fight despair
Allow a little dignity
With open minds
Practice sensitivity
Bring happiness
And grace and love and charity
So much more
Than in our most amazing dreams
When we know
This human race is family
Then we spark
The flame of peace and harmony

-KJ Roe