Love at the Center

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Last night, just as we released the hounds into their little “dog park” for a postprandial run, an unleashed (!) Great Dane left his people on the state trail that runs beside our home to dash over and chase our pups from outside their fenced playground. He really wanted to find a way in and they were equally determined to break out.

A wild dance ensued. Miles were covered, round and round, up and down, back and forth, all accompanied by extremely frenetic and high decibel barking…Finally, one of his people enticed the Great Dane to be leashed and led back to the trail, where another person and a well-behaved dog waited.

Our pups took forever to settle from all the excitement. This morning, Dooley and Micky were seated in the living room, keeping a very close watch on the trail.

Itching, I think, for Round Two and more fun.

Last evening’s entire episode spanned no more than 10 minutes. Phillip took one look, realized all were safe, and stayed inside, to allow the Great Dane’s person the security of knowing only her voice would be focused on her dog. I felt way too anxious, initially, and stepped out on the deck to observe the situation, entirely ignored by all involved, until the woman led her dog away and, clearly flustered, shouted, “Sorry!” as they headed back to the trail. I shrugged and called out, “Dogs! Right?!” I hoped she knew I was rather amused by the whole episode as it unfolded, but I don’t know; we were not close enough to even distinguish each other’s features.

Our pups, as I’ve mentioned, were hyped the rest of the evening and again this morning, when they stepped out for their early constitutional. I think the surprise of another and very large dog contributed to the general excitement, let alone the human stranger running into the yard and calling after her dog, but I also think the experience brought back the joy of the dog park and the freedom our dogs used to have in running around with new friends and their people. Truly, the Great Dane seemed more intent on play than threatening our pups. I think they were all a bit delighted by the memory of strangers who could be new friends.

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This week, for many reasons, I’ve been noticing how short-fused people have become on social media and in the comments of online news articles. It’s not a new trend but it’s seemed to accelerate and multiply. Innocent comments are attacked and the authors are rapidly pilloried with language that would make a dockworker cringe. Accusations of every possible prejudice and politically-correct bias are hurled at a complete stranger with the intent, it seems to annihilate his or her existence. I’m surprised my computer isn’t left smoking.

When did this behavior become acceptable and even encouraged in adult discourse? When did this coarse and inflammatory language become tolerated so widely? I may question another stranger’s view, but I’m very weary of people feeling it’s necessary to shame and insult those with whom they disagree by using violent, incendiary obscenities. It disengages and saddens me. I wish we’d return to fueling our conversations with pondered intelligence rather than self-righteous anger. The intent seems to win a barroom brawl rather than nudge humanity forward in anything resembling the unity necessary to survive the problems we face.

And what, exactly, does hurling obscenities accomplish? How does it alter the energy? Where does it end? I think a little kindness and patience could help us out right now. What’s the endgame, after all? To feel self-satisfied or to invite a change in thinking and behavior? I miss gentleness and polite conversation. I miss basic etiquette. I miss people holding their tongues and listening more deeply before judging. I miss meeting strangers sans agendas.

A few years ago, the culture seemed honorably focused on the lasting pain caused by bullying. This makes me struggle with the current unfazed acceptance of the verbal/written bullying and nasty sarcasm tolerated online among “adults.” If I were having a conversation with someone in-person and they interrupted to bellow vulgarities at me, I know I’d feel intimidated and immediately shut down. I’d probably feel embarrassed or ashamed to be singled out by that kind of language, and I’d feel isolated and depressed…aren’t those the signs of being bullied?

And, if this is the way we treat each other anonymously, how will we behave when we can speak again with strangers face-to-face?

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I thought about these things last night as we brought the 4-leggeds in and laughed about their adventure. I hope the woman and her companion walking their dogs back home had a giggle, too, and knew we weren’t angry or upset with them or their huge funny 4-legged. I’m still not certain I didn’t join her to help corral the Great Dane because it was better for her dog to have only her known voice directing it, or if it was more due to fear of unmasked viral exchange, or if I just wanted to avoid contact with another potentially angry human.

We have all had more stress than our health could bear this past year, and yet borne it all we have, but I humbly offer that we humans need to develop wiser methods for discharging our fear and anger than firing it directly into the hearts of others. Because we also have wonderful capacities for kindness and joy.

This long darkness is ending, and we’ll be face-to-face again soon. There will be awkwardness enough without the added anxiety of having uninvited opinions and judgments hurled at us. Let’s give consideration to the feelings of others, practice forgiveness, and try for greater kindness in the ways we interact, keeping our focus on the endgame: To extend the kindness towards others we’d like shared with ourselves, so that necessary progress may be achieved together. No one will always be right; no one needs to be shamed; no one should be isolated. Words can be chosen for the light and beauty they shine rather than the hurt they inflict or ugly noises they make.

I saw a quote on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s page this week: “Since the universe has no center, you can’t be it.” I laughed, and remembered another quote, attributed to many great thinkers. A paraphrase: “Love is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” Let’s put love at the center of every meeting and relationship, and see how we are then invited to treat each other.

Like the dogs last night, I hope that we can be surprised by the presence of each other, have fun together, and share so much delight that we sit at the window, anticipating our next meeting.

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By Toby Mac #SPEAKLIFE

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

8 thoughts on “Love at the Center

  1. Kitty, I have to tell you – I laughed out loud at Neil deGrasse Tyson’s quote. Who says scientists have no sense of humor!! LOL. First, you have just written the reason why I am not terribly involved in social media – at least not the kind where people are hurling invectives at each other and tearing apart total strangers because their opinion differs. That is so disheartening, and I hope will not bear upon in-person meetings as we gradually open our lives to one another again. Secondly, loved the unexpected “play date” – I think the woman was too embarrassed to be angry. Here’s to to a kinder gentler world, Kitty – cheers!

    1. Ha! I loved the quote, too; wish I would have had it when I was teaching middle school. 🙂 And, yes, last night was crazy exciting for a while! I could see how much the babies missed the acres of dog park they used to love visiting; they don’t run nearly as much in the yard as they did last night. It was so funny, to watch how they were all in total “dog mode.” There was certainly some very deep snoozing last night. 🙂 xoxox, Thank you for taking time to visit and share, Jeanne! Be safe and well, and gentle peace.

  2. I so agree with you! However I have watched this grow to this level over the last 4 years. Now I so sadly find the negative seems to only becoming from those with a conservative bend as well. The more liberal used to fight back but have stopped. They seem with the bright light at the end of the tunnels of our lives to be rejoicing in Love One Another Again!
    I am finding social media to be a sea of high waves. I am trying to steer to the edges and the calmer waters. So glad to find them actually.
    I needed to comment because you captured perfectly how I felt 2 and 3 years ago. So I tell you today that it will get better!

  3. Thank you for your kindness and willingness to share, Kerry. It’s great to hear that you’ve found some refuge and peace. It does feel like we’re at a point of great historical importance regarding our welfare and, more deeply, the planet’s, so I understand the fear, anger, regression, and grief.

    As a hospice chaplain, I also hope we can unite in supporting what’s dying and let it go peacefully, assuring one another we’ll be OK if we act together in kindness and love to create what’s necessary for peaceful coexistence. It’s the only way forward, I believe, and we’re capable of achieving it if we choose maturity and tend ourselves and our relationships as we know they need to be tended.

  4. I can just imagine the kerfuffle with the Great Dane and how all canines enjoyed the unexpected excitement. Oh, the trolls on social media are getting worse, even on online newspapers the comments are vile. So many anonymous keyboard warriors. I echo your call for kindness and tolerance. Beautiful photos as always. Love and hugs to all.xxxx

  5. The pups had a mighty exciting time, that’s for sure. I think they’re still dreaming about it!

    Yeah, I don’t read the comments anymore; I’m lucky if I get to the news stories themselves before I have to get writing and gardening! I do love gardening, but my goodness, everything happens at once, right?

    Yes, kindness and tolerance. You’re stellar at both and I love that about you. xxxx

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