Daily Reflection

“I’ve heard that no matter what you’re going through, someone has it worse. I don’t like that statement. I’ve never liked it. It’s emotionally dismissive, and it teaches us our personal struggles are insignificant. So, we hide, and we refuse to cry out, and we try not to burden others with our pain. Someone might have it worse, true. But we are all broken, and we are all human, and we are never alone.” (Sarah Beth McClure)

A long-distance friend of mine texted me one day recently and asked if I was free to catch up with them over the phone during an hour-long drive I was on to see another friend I visit each week. I wasn’t in the right headspace to have a conversation with them that day due to my health issues and how heightened my mental and physical suffering felt. So, I politely declined via return text, letting them know I wasn’t in the best headspace and was having a rather difficult day. I told them I didn’t want to risk getting into any heavy conversation (as many of my prior conversations with them often tend to get that way). I then asked for prayers and said I loved them, hoping they would understand. What I got in return was a message that reminded me how I had a car that had gas, with good tires, and insurance, along with a legal license, and how I was on the road to visit a friend who was looking forward to spending time with me to have a decent meal together. All of which was followed with “and you’re in bad headspace, yep, you definitely need some prayers.”

At first, I was extremely vexed at their response, and responded via text that carried much of that tone. Later, after talking it through with my partner, as well as the friend I had visited, I simply was left feeling quite sad. Sad for the amount of people that have often done this to me, whenever I’ve shared with them about the pain and suffering I continue to go through.

This experience reminded me of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who in the Bible showed up just after Job had gone through a tremendous amount of loss and was now sitting in great pain and suffering. They initially offer him comfort that lasts for about a week and then proceed to start lecturing him about all the things he has either done wrong to lead to his pain and suffering or is currently doing wrong that’s making it remain. Thankfully, God eventually has the last word, and strongly reminds Job’s friends how none have spoken any truth whatsoever.

What my friend and so many others never seem to understand is that reminding a person going through great pain and suffering of all that they should be grateful for, or reminding them of all those who are far worse off in their own pain and suffering, doesn’t offer the sufferer any comfort or relief that they’re desperately seeking. It truly is emotionally dismissive. I’m sure all those out there who have experienced great pain and suffering, especially those who have for long periods of time, would agree.

Nevertheless, minimizing someone’s pain and suffering by comparing it to others who may be suffering worse or attempting to point out where gratitude should be instead, isn’t being compassionate, or unconditionally loving. It’s being judgmental and saying one’s personal struggles are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

So, the next time someone opens up to you about their pain and suffering, even if they’ve done it countless times before, if you feel the need to say anything, just let them know you love them, as saying anything else is more for your own benefit than theirs, and probably only coming from your ego and not your heart…

Dear God, may I always have unconditionally loving words of support for anyone who may ever open up to me and share about any of the pain and suffering they’re going through. 

Peace, love, light, and joy
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“And Jesus concluded, ‘In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?’ The teacher of the Law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘You go, then, and do the same.’” (Luke 10:36-37)

One of my closest friends was struggling a few weeks ago with whether to remain on Facebook or not mostly for the very same reason why I have myself in recent times, that being due to the overall lack of kindness from numerous others in their postings and comments. Thankfully, I found a workaround for this long ago that I passed along to this dear friend, that being the “mass unfollow” option that allows a person to unfollow everyone connected to them so that their newsfeed becomes essentially blank, all except for their own postings.

Facebook, like much of the world seems to have become these days, is a big dumping ground for individuals to express their negativity surrounding all those hot-button topics out there, often with no regard for how polarizing their postings and comments can be. In the past six months, the majority of what I’ve seen on social media has been filled with vast amounts of criticism towards political and religious leaders, towards how people are handling COVID-19, and now towards police brutality and the racism that still exists in our world.

I specifically don’t follow anyone on Facebook for this very reason, as I don’t want to subject myself to anyone’s polarizing comments and postings that quite often seem to be weighted with unkindness towards someone or something. Some may say they are simply expressing what they believe is truth, but if expressing these “truths” means placing more unkind words towards anyone or anything out there, the sad reality is that doing so is only going to create more unkindness in our world.

Unkind words and unkindness in general only lead to more unkind words and more unkindness from others. For example, for every posting that places “truths” through the usage of unkind words towards say our President or those running against him, the opposing side then gets charged and sends their own unkind words back, thus creating a vicious cycle that truly goes nowhere. Hence the reason why I steer clear of following anyone on Facebook, so that I don’t have to see any of this whenever I log in. Instead, I always see a newsfeed of my own postings, which has provided me, and now my friend as well, some much-needed relief from having to see all that toxicity coming from so many postings weighted with unkindness.

The fact is, a kind word will go a long way, even when directed towards those we may not like, just as much as an unkind word will go a long way as well. Each ripple outward creating either more kindness or more unkindness, whichever is used. That’s why I never post anything unkind on Facebook and why I rarely look at anyone’s timelines, so I can remain free from feeling any desire to become unkind myself.

Like the good Samaritan who expressed kindness and helped a person truly out of generosity who would otherwise have spit upon them, I choose to be a vessel who wishes to do the same, in all my actions, including on social media and throughout the rest of my life as well. Thankfully there are options like unfollowing the masses on Facebook, to help keep that focus, rather than exposing myself to any of the many weighted postings and words out there on social media that far too often are filled with so much unkindness, yet labeled as “truths”. While indeed some of them may be “truths”, using unkind words to express them will never accomplish anything but creating greater unkindness and polarization amongst us all.

I pray to always use kind words in all my thoughts, words, and actions, so that I may do my part to creating greater kindness in this world. 

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence, toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…Our aim must never be to default or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

George Floyd’s death was truly a tragedy on every level, and one that should never have happened. Sadly, police brutality and their use of excessive force continues to be a problem in our country and far too often it’s been with persons of color. Oscar Grant, Rodney King, Anthony Baez, John T. Williams, Christopher Harris, these are just a few of the many names of others who like Floyd, were victims of police brutality. While I’m in total support for change to come in our country to prevent police brutality from happening anymore, I’m not in support of it ever coming through acts of violence.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my hero’s, and someone I’ve always modeled in my own code of conduct in life. King believed in non-violence and peaceful demonstrations. He stood in the face of hatred and received many-a-beating, all unfairly, and yet never once fought back. In the end, it was his non-violence movement that helped to establish greater equal rights for blacks in our country. But, it’s apparent we still have a long way to go to fully achieve that, as evident in George Floyd’s tragic death.

The problem with violence as King once said, is that it only creates more violence. So, with Floyd’s death being a violent crime in itself by an officer of the law, the response from much of the public soon became a desire to give violence back. In the days that followed Floyd’s passing, demonstrations initially peaceful turned violent, leading to looting, fires, altercations, anger, and rage, none of which accomplished anything except the creation of greater fear and more violent responses from the police, which in turn is only going to lead to more wrongful deaths of people of color in the future. It remains a vicious cycle and thus, the main goal of reducing police brutality never even gets a chance to begin because as King observed in his time, violence never creates peace.

I get people are angry surrounding all this and rightfully so. Something truly has to be done about the police brutality in our country. But the answer’s not violence, as that’s only going to lead to more of the very same thing. Sometimes I really wish Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive, as I know he’d have the answer on how to fix this, which I most assuredly would be following his lead. I can even see myself going to his first public demonstration surrounding this, all in the hopes of doing my part in helping to achieve greater peace, unconditional love, and equality for all, as the last thing I want is to ever let my own anger get the best of me, where I resort to some violent outburst that’s only going to lead to more violence and more police brutality.

I pray to be a vessel of peace, unconditional love, and equality for all.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson