I was in the first grade in Anchorage, Alaska when I planted my first seed. Our teacher had the class plant flowers in eggshells and I remember how fearful I was of breaking the delicate white casing before I even had my seeds planted.
Teacher stored our humble creations in modest egg cartons on a windowsill, assuring us that after a few weeks of watering, our little seeds would sprout to become a huge bouquet of bright tangerine flowers. All we needed was patience. And you know what? It worked!
Today I am planting another seed. It’s not a flower or herb but a word -- and it can grow anywhere. But I need your help to make it thrive.
Humans have longed for this elusive bloom since time began. Some say it lives only in our imagination, a precious dream that flits like a beautiful butterfly amongst a rough terrain of thorny weeds.
Yet in times of turmoil, we cry to the heavens to blanket us with its sweet perfume. The seed I refer to, of course, is Peace.
Getting to the root of the problem It seems like every day there is something rotting our soils. Conflicts in the Middle East. Terrorism in Europe. Mass shootings in the U.S. And since the news is so bleak in our co-created reality, many of us escape—not to a restful place of tranquility, but to a screaming, frightfest marathon of violent, blood-thirsty, zombie-infested television shows and movies. Does this make sense to you?
With all the anger and conflict in the world, it’s easy to get entangled in the growing net of negativity.
Some writers have an appetite for drama and live for the humiliation of their fellow beings. They believe sensationalism sells more publications, increases their “Like” potential on Facebook and gives them recurring guest status on gossipy talk shows. This kind of thinking is akin to throwing a lighted torch into a building and then stepping back to admire the flames. Mesmerizing, but absolutely destructive.
Another point to consider is when writers race to be the first to “expose” the sordid aspects of celebrities and neighbors in tabloids or on social media, they are not doing so to unify the planet. They are judging and this separates us more. And what happens when people feel separated? They become fearful, angry, depressed, and occasionally dangerous.
Whether you write to grow awareness about the plight of the bumblebee, the horror of human trafficking or the poisons in our drinking water, I believe the ultimate objective of our investigations should be resolution. This is contrary to what I learned in my college journalism classes. Back then, we were taught that a good reporter was unbiased, never transparent nor “too close to a story."
Fortunately, the times seem to be a-changing.
According to Patrick Lee Plaisance, a professor of journalism and technical communication at Colorado State University, “It’s critical for journalists never to lose sight of their own humanity, and that means understanding and empathizing and connecting on a human level, not just as instruments of stories.”
It starts with the heart Do you feel strongly about the environment? Are you against bullying? Do you want to stop world hunger? Would you like to take away all the guns in the world and encourage people to “play nice?"
If your intention is to become a compassionate writer and plant a seed of Peace, simply open your heart and follow these suggestions:
1. Write from a place of Love, not fear. 2. For every negative issue you must address, offer non-violent conflict resolutions. 3. Abstain from people-bashing and name-calling in articles, blogs and social media. 4. Remove the word hate from your vocabulary. 5. Refrain from using cliches with negative origins like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, there’s more than one way to skin a cat or killing two birds with one stone. 6. Refuse to use your words as a weapon to incite others to attack, build walls or promote segregation. 7. Mentor new writers to write with compassion.
We are all One. We are connected to every being and everything we think, write and do affects another. Everything.
Perhaps one day we will have no need for words to express ourselves. But until such time occurs, let us think first with our hearts before we share our truths. As Mary Pipher wrote in her book, Writing to Change the World, “Writers foster the growth of readers’ souls. And the best soil for growth is love.”