I wrote this post two months ago at this point, and I’m finally ready to come back to it – having seen how so many people I vehemently disagree with use the hashtag, bumper sticker, or chant “all lives matter”. It struck me hard while the crowd at the Republican National Convention chanted “all lives matter”, echoing the cries of the charismatic pastor at the podium – despite the fact that he was one of the ONLY people of color to speak at the RNC. I started reading articles and social media posts about all lives matter through a fresh lens, and quickly realized that when some people say “all lives matter”, what they mean is “white lives matter also.” No kidding! What I meant, and what I naively thought everybody else did too, is that all minorities and oppressed people matter. It’s not enough to only care about uplifting our black community, but we must extend that care and loving dedication to all people of color, discriminated-against religious groups like Islam, and those going hungry across the world.
That’s what I suggest in the following blog post – treat everyone with kindness, compassion, and start giving EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt. Sigh. Ok, back to it.
A white police officer in Auburn, Massachusetts, was killed recently during a routine traffic stop, and seeing a large lighted sign in remembrance with the hashtag #bluelivesmatter made me think.
Social media and the news is full of horrible stuff, and I’d suggest we have become somewhat numb to the word tragedy as a result. It’s a powerful word, tragedy, and one that typically evokes images of mourning masses and immense loss. But any time we see another tragedy that involves people of color or police officers, we use hashtags like #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter. And, of course, people of color and members of the police force do matter, immensely. Both hashtags trend heavily on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and I can appreciate why. We need to learn to value black lives, and blue lives, and all lives. Now I’m white, and a civilian – to be fair, I don’t understand what it’s like to live each day with the societal stigma or fear some associate with black and blue lives. So I’m interested to hear what others think, but here’s my two cents.
There’s too much violence in the world, and violence is a tragedy because it begets only trouble, pain, and suffering. We are here on earth and as far as we know, we don’t have more then maybe 100 years here. So why would we not try to enjoy every moment, savoring each breath and every step?
The elderly sometimes look back and say that they wished they had spent more time laughing, or that they didn’t worry about everything so much, or to have spent more time with their loved ones. Life is beautiful and hard at the same time, and if we can learn to love, cherish and focus on the beauty in it, what a better world this would be.
Many of us already practice finding the beauty, joy and peace in the every day, and those of us who do are some of the happier people I know. Of course, I wouldn’t insinuate that life isn’t difficult – and it’s definitely a lot harder for some than others. I try to keep it real in life and here on the blog. I don’t think I’ve written one post about how singularly pleasurable life is. It absolutely hurts sometimes – I even cried this afternoon.
But ultimately, aren’t we crying because there something to cry about? Something was so important to us, and resonated so deeply in our gut that we had a physical reaction to it. I think that’s a beautiful thing in and of itself, and maybe even that thought should make me cry out of sheer joy, because I’m a sap like that. So friends, let’s give ourselves that time that we need to cry, to laugh, to give and receive love in so many forms, to eat ice cream or laugh until we snort, because we can – because we are alive. And that is something HUGE to be thankful for.
So how do we fully appreciate and cherish lives, starting with our own? Well, it starts small with being kind to ourselves. When you wake up in the morning, think about the fact that you have woken up, when many people across the world have already breathed their final breath. If you don’t have pain, be thankful and proud of your body that you don’t have pain, when many people live with some type of pain. Even the simplest things – a bed to sleep in, oatmeal for breakfast, coffee– which so many of us take for granted but others lack, would be game-changers for many people.
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Once you have given thanks to yourself and your life, open that funnel a little bigger and thank others. If you have someone you love, who you have the privilege of living in the same household as, thank them! Maybe it’s for brightening your morning with a smile, for preparing you a nice meal, or just sharing a quiet moment together.
In our home on Fridays, we celebrate Shabbat after sundown. It’s a family and Jewish tradition, and one which many members of my family celebrate every week. My husband is not Jewish. But he does enjoy the peace, quietude, and loves that comes with the family tradition of Shabbat. We light candles and say a short prayer, and then we eat. My husband even puts on a shirt! 🙂
After we say the prayer, we tend to hug. Now, I’m not sure if the hug is a formal Shabbat tradition, but out in Seattle my Grandma comes around the table to kiss all of us on the head after she says the prayers, and here in Hopedale Matt and I hug because we feel the peace and love in the tradition. Actually, my Dad hugs us too when we have Shabbat at his house. Ok, I guess it is a tradition – maybe not one dictated by Judaism, but a family tradition nonetheless.
So whether you say bon appétit, b’tei a’von, or Grace before you eat, part of cherishing our lives is cherishing the ones we love, and our ability to provide for one another. For those of us who have homes to call our own, and food on the table every night with no worry as to how to finance that meal, that’s something to be thankful for.
And widening that gratitude funnel even more, when we’re in public, remember that those in uniforms or with nametags, or sometimes behind-the-scenes cleaning up after us, are just doing their jobs. I’m guessing the vast majority of people set out each morning and try to make the best of their day, just like the rest of us. So tip and be friendly and polite to your waiters, waitresses, bartenders, etc. Ask the cashier how his or her day is going, and maybe even offer a smile to a stranger. The sheer power of a small gift of kindness, including a smile, can be highly impactful.
A licensed therapist recalled reading about survivors who had attempted suicide, but lived, and all expressed that they were glad to be alive. But what struck me as hugely powerful was their collective sentiment that if a stranger had “acknowledged their humanity with a (genuine) smile, they would have changed their mind about trying to end their lives.” Just a smile! Because #livesmatter. All of them. Sometimes it takes a warm smile to remind us of that. So smile at yourself, smile at each other, smile at a stranger. It just might save a life. And wouldn’t that be incredible?
To quickly recap, here are 3 quick things you can do today to demonstrate that all lives matter, to cherish your life, and to increase your happiness! Because kindness is contagious, just like smiles 🙂
- Look in the mirror. Give yourself a wink, blow a kiss, or even toss over a schmink (a smooch and a wink, as my hubby taught me)! Meditation and yoga are both huge for self-love, but ultimately just do something for YOU! Because my friend, you matter.
- Pass it on. Thank your partner, hug your dog, call your family, text your friends when you think of them. Connections are key to life – not constant social/tech-driven stimulation, but strong, reinforcing connections with other awesome people 🙂
- Make it public. Tip anybody you think should be tipped. Smile at a stranger (be safe guys, I’m not suggesting we befriend creepers – just offer a genuine, innocent smile – it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and practice personal safety)It doesn’t have to be big, grand or expensive, something as small as a smile will do.
A great way to show gratitude is to protect life. Not just our own but all lives. Of humans, plants, animals – the earth depends on us now, because we have depended upon it for so long – so let’s do what we can to save the planet, our home. While many are fighting wars over oil, religion, love, etc., I’d rather choose to love life and lives. As John Lennon said, “give peace a chance.”
A photo posted by Eliza – A Happy Wife (@happywifecreativelife) on
So there’s our weekly food for thought. Many artists have written words and melodies that resonate deep in my soul, and my hope for this blog – an amazing platform to express my feelings – is that my words resonate with one of you, my treasured readers. Because you matter.
What tips do you have to share about how to cherish life and lives? Please leave a comment below to let me know – and thank you for reading.
Sending you peace, love, and confidence that #AllLivesMatter,
A Happy Wife