Saturday, July 21, 2018

Leaving Our Mark

There was a line in a book I just finished, it was the kind of line that you might easily skim over without really noticing. It wasn’t really relevant to the story directly, but more as part of the arc of the series. It was sort of a side note. It was a reference to two ancestors of the family, two brothers who had hated each other so much that they painted a black line down the middle of the foyer of their ancestral home, so that each would remember to keep to their own wing of the house. They didn’t think of the consequences of the mark they left behind. Generations later, it was a mark that their descendants saw every day. In observing that line years later the young protagonist’s words were, “How sad I thought, their hatred had outlived them.”

A few words simply slipped into the postlude of a story. Yet for me, those were the most powerful words in the whole story. The rest of it fell away and I honestly stopped breathing for moment when I felt the weight of them. It’s not that I feel as though I live a hate filled, nor sadly, a hate free life, but I know that lately I’ve been feeling the weight of all the hatred being tossed around in the world, whether in politics, in the media, or between family, friends and neighbors.

Is that what we collectively want to outlive us? Are we willing to let the hate and animosity be so much louder than the love and kindness? What is the mark we want to leave behind for others who follow us to see? Do we want our descendants to look back at a house divided by the black mark of hatred?

I know there is love in the world, and kindness overflowing. Yet somehow still we are making a choice collectively to focus on the division, the bitterness, and the hatred. I know that to be true because of what I hear and see and read. If we, all of us, demanded a focus on the good, if we only consumed and shared the good, that is what would dominate the airwaves, and the internet, and our hearts. Where we focus our attention is what we will see and create, whether you call it the law of supply and demand, or the law of attraction.

We collectively have chosen to focus elsewhere. I hope that it’s only for a time, a short time in the grand scheme of things, because I, for one, want my love to outlive me. I want my kindness to outlive me. I want my compassion to outlive me. If we each, myself included, could focus even a little more of our attention, and our consumption, and our sharing on love and kindness, rather than fear and division, we could change the world, and change our legacy. We could let the best of us outlive us rather than the worst. Now that’s a mark worth leaving