Miracles among the Madness
Editorial note: This is not a preachy article. You've been preached to, I'm sure, from all 'sides' this summer. Instead, this miraculous information was inspired, and we hope it will simply let you see what’s happening with new eyes. My invitation? Reframe, rewrite, rejoice. Be the miracle.
“How in the world can this be happening?” you’ve probably asked yourself over the last several weeks.
I want you to know I hear you. I feel you. I have been in conversations with many of you.
If Covid-19 were not bad enough (plus an earthquake or two in my neck of the woods), now the violence and unrest raging in our country can make us feel absolutely out of control.
I don’t know about you, but when life is feeling out of control, it’s all too easy to go into fear and sometimes aggression and anger.
It can feel helpless and hopeless.
I’m not preaching. I have lain on my couch, clutching pillows with tears running down my face.
I hit said pillow a time or two. I wanted to be out on the streets. I wanted to carry signs. I wanted to protect those with shields.
In the midst of this, a miracle happened.
I have discovered it is not hopeless. And because you are still reading, I can tell there is a part of you that knows this is true.
I’m here to tell you there are miracles in the madness.
There always are. It’s just time to look.
Well, they have everything to do with it.
As a brain/heart nerd, I’d love to share something fascinating.
In a nutshell, there’s a part of our brain called the amygdala, an area of our brain that responds to triggers in our environment, especially emotional triggers. Stimulating our hypothalamus, the amygdala sends signals that invoke the strongest feelings we ever feel on the planet.
You’ve heard of fight or flight? Broken down into emotions, fight or flight means anger and even aggression. . . or fear. Fight or flight.
Adrenaline coursing through our veins gives us the ability to REACT, but not to create.
The root of the problem
To get to the root of what we’re facing, the news of our friends and family and spouses, children and coworkers and neighbors who are African American. . . well, they’ve been facing this daily wash of fear for far too long and have had enough.
And then there are our beloved police officers – the good ones -- and we know they’re out there because we’ve experienced them. They’re also our friends and family, spouses, children and coworkers and neighbors who put their lives on the line every day. The good ones along with everyone else are now being thrust into the spotlight.
As a historian, a poli-sci major and humanitarian, I will simply share that in my humble opinion, it is absolutely critical that we address the systemic violence against people with black and brown skin in our society. It just must be done.
As an observer and student of history, I would say it’s wayyyyyy past time. As the names chime through my brain, I don’t want this to have to happen again to another soul. And I don’t want a single cop to die out of us making them the enemy. There are too many good ones out there. I don't want a single person to lose their home, business, property and certainly not a loved one.
We can stop and do what the animals cannot.
We can make a new choice.
How we do it, however – how we evolve and grow from this – is another story.
And if you’re like most of the world who was already emotionally triggered by the pandemic, all of us who care find ourselves caught up in the wash of adrenaline-filled chemicals in our brain where it’s easy to be in REACTION instead of CREATION. That’s why it seems the world has gone crazy because as a society we’ve pushed ourselves into a frenzy of fight-or-flight response.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, however, how violence begets violence begets violence. . .
Violence is not leadership.
Mother Teresa recognized this.
Gandhi recognized this.
Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized this.
Nelson Mandela came to recognize this.
Violence rewards us nothing but hatred.
Hatred begets generations of haters and creates war. Again, this is not leadership.
But I’m going to talk about you.
A miracle happens in our brains the moment we do one remarkable thing: we stop and allow a moment between stimulus and response, so that we may operate in creation instead of reaction.
That’s where you, the beautiful leader, come into play.
The moment you recognize your brain chemicalization can be tamed, you step out of fight or flight, and into conscious, living, productive thought.
And thus begins the miracle: you can create change instead of reacting to it.
You can BE the change, instigate for good, accelerate love for humanity and strive to move forward together, one act of communication and leadership at a time.
Do you see how you can become a walking miracle?
In this sense, you show up --even when 99% of the population are unable to do so right now... but they will eventually. Once the adrenaline and fear chemicals subside and they stop letting themselves be triggered, they, too will allow a moment, and make better choices. Every time they do, that will be a miracle, too.
May I simply suggest that this unrest has brought us opportunities to have long, overdue conversations.
It's exactly what you're doing when you write your book. You open perspectives, not slam them shut.
Look around the world. Humanity cannot be cut into pieces like a pie and stuck in different boxes. What happens to the part, happens to the whole. If you were born with a different color skin—something 100% out of your control – you might be begging for this conversation.
Whatever the case, you can take advantage of this up-leveled conversation today.
The Positive Ripple
I firmly believe that in tackling the racism issue as humanity, we can also start to resolve violence in our homes and lives.
Millions of victims of slavery and human trafficking might get an inkling that they can rise—that their situation doesn’t have to define them. Anywhere we denigrate a population and a human being, we could recognize from here on out that it’s simply not acceptable.
Believe it or not, the positive ripple may be the one that saves one of your descendant’s lives, no matter the skin tone.
How beautiful is that? We just need to make sure we're not deliberately creating more enemies along the way.
And for the final miracle.
In my research on the brain, remember me sharing that the amygdala sends signals to the hypothalamus so your emotions know what to do and how you’re supposed to feel and react?
It’s all a story!
It’s true. Want to know how I know?
Because that part of your brain system is also responsible for your other strongest feelings, ever. Romantic love and social bonding!
I’m not kidding.
Romantic love – where you feel the excitement, tremors, shaking, shivering, delight and the unexplainable need to just be with that person who has become the absolute apple of your eye – to be seen and understood and beheld as a human being with so much to offer.
Social bonding – those emotions where you feel close with a person or a group of people, aligned with a sense of belonging and a different need to be close, but still seen and understood and beheld as a human being with so much to offer.
Does this sound like fight-or-flight? No. (At least, most of the time :D).
This sounds like Love. This sounds like the wash of different chemical rewards in your brain: dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Natural highs that our Creator designed, coming from the same part of the brain . . . when we tell a different story.
The miracle of the moment you are facing in society is that Love is the Answer.
It's the only answer.
Why would the great Creator develop something in our brains that not only stimulates fleeing and fighting but also loving and creating change together?
Because this was a Mystery that was meant to be solved.
How your brain reacts is all about the story you are telling.
Is it of fear and anger and aggression?
Or is it of love and compassion for all humanity?
Some people think the world literally is coming to an end.
And some people who refuse to live inside the box know that they are the miracle makers. . . recognizing that this moment in time could be one of humanity’s greatest LEAPS forward!
In conclusion, my dear leader. . . what story will you tell yourself when the headlines come on?
When opportunities come?
My real invitation to you is this:
When the lights go out, will yours come on?
Now THAT is leadership.