The autumnal equinox will arrive silently at 2:50 a.m. on Saturday. According to those who know the equinox – which is Latin for “Equal night” – means the days and nights will be nearly equal in length as the sun crosses the equator on its way to the Tropic of Capricorn. When it reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, it will be winter here. Then the sun will begin its journey northward. When it crosses the equator again, it will be spring where I live and the days and nights will be of nearly equal length again.
The beginning of autumn always touches something inside of me. Some primordial facet of my being that makes me pensive and leads me to thoughts and ideas and worries and concerns. On this autumnal equinox, I worry about the world we’ve created and the world my grandchildren will grow up in.
To me, the world seems to get meaner and people seem to treat each other worse than ever. There is no room for compromise anymore. There is much violence and evil in the world and I can’t help but think that social media is playing a role. Social media isn’t causing the hatred and meanness – but it gives the haters and the miscreants, the charlatans, and the conspiracy theorists — the worst of us– a megaphone and just enough anonymity to embolden those who hide behind it.
There is no doubt that giving people a common enemy is a quick – if not moral – way to bring people together. If you point the finger of blame and hate a certain group of people – you create a sense of belonging to those who join in your hate.
For those who hate, social media gives them a soapbox to spread the hate and that gives ideas to others.
I’ve been alive a long time and I have never seen our country like this. There is so much hate. Too much hate and too much meanness. People can’t seem to disagree without hating those they disagree with. Meaness and violence and hate swelling up all over and no one seems to care.
So much of the misinformation circulating online is being assimilated and accepted as truth that for some it’s hard to tell what is real and what is not. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults say that online platforms have a major role in spreading made-up news and information. This can lead to meanness and hatred towards certain groups or individuals who are targeted by false or misleading information. Even those things that are not true are accepted as truth. Many seem to want simple answers to complex problems and don’t want to take the time to test the veracity of the information they ingest.
Yet there is only one truth. Lies and misinformation aren’t the truth, but it only takes a few minutes of reading social media posts to see that far too many people are willing to accept misinformation as the truth and don’t want to take the time to verify the facts. The truth gets twisted into braids of lies and hatred without regard for kindness, courtesy, or the feelings of others.
I am saddened and frightened by the direction in which the world is heading. I wonder what kind of country and what kind of world my grandchildren and their children will grow up in. I fear that meanness and hatred are becoming acceptable and normal.
But, it’s not normal. It’s not acceptable. And it’s not right. Lies will never be true. It has become acceptable to be mean and say and say hateful things about and to those we don’t agree with and to those who don’t agree with us. It’s too far too easy now for haters to join in those crusades.
Why and how has it become so easy for meanness and hate to grow? That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We are supposed to be tolerant and kind and to love, care, and treat everyone the way we want to be treated. Is it really easier to hate and be mean than to love and be kind?
I re-read the parable of the good samaritan and it made me think…
An expert in the law asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus answered… “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)
I know it’s hard to be kind to those you don’t agree with. It’s really hard to be nice to those who don’t like us. It’s much easier to be dismissive and dislike those we don’t agree with and who don’t like us. But in our hearts, we know that’s not right. And things have to change or they will only get worse and our children and our grandchildren and their children will be living in an unimaginably cruel, mean, and hateful world.
The autumnal equinox makes me pensive and reflective. It reminds me that in the universe there is order and even in its violence, it’s easy to find peace.
There are so many reasons to be thankful for the good things we have. In autumn, it’s easy to see the beauty that is all around me. It’s so easy for me to find peace in the season. There is so much beauty in the simple things… in the lovely country roads beautifully bordered by blazing autumn leaves of orange, red, and yellow – the silver-white frost on the lawns and the pumpkins — the nostalgic smell of burning leaves wafting through the autumn air. All of these things remind me of how things should be, how they used to be, and how they still could be.
Maybe it’s time for us to take a break and look inward. Take a look at what we’ve become. And to try to be better people not only for ourselves but for the world in which we live. There is still much beauty and peace in the world if we take the time to look.
We can begin by looking inside.
The world would be a better place, I think if we all remembered the parable of the good Samaritan. It reminds me that mercy, kindness, and love can overcome the hate and meanness that seems to be growing all around us.
Maybe it’s time we all remember the good Samaritan and… “Go and do likewise”.