Sometimes we only see the immediate rather than the bigger picture.
For instance, looking at only the trunk of this maple tree, it would appear that the lichen-encrusted and craggy bark indicates an almost dead tree.
However, when we step back and look up on a spring day, we see the leaves appearing on an expansive and very alive maple tree.
I find this metaphor helpful when approaching current events. As in any time, there is a lot of conflict and dire news. And as in any time, there are a lot of opinions.
Do you also notice how uncertain times can spawn so many very certain beliefs? Ironic perhaps.
I’m not bothered by the expression of strongly held beliefs. Democracy should allow and protect free speech. Even when I don’t agree with the particular expression.
What concerns me is when these beliefs come from a place of fear.
Fear is more likely to occur when we don’t see the big picture. When we are unable to see or grasp the totality of events. When we only see today.
Fear can drive away kindness. Fear can create intolerance. Fear can impair our judgment.
Fear causes us to be less humane. Just check out the explosion of insulting words on social media. Am I the only one who believes that it is worse than ever.
Over 80 years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we need to fear is fear itself.”
I used to fear not having all the answers. I might have blamed this as an occupational hazard (as lawyers are expected to always be right in their advice), but more likely it was because I had crowned myself as the “Queen of Certainty”. This was a self-imposed burden of thinking that I had to be always right and that everyone else (my “subjects”) had to agree with me or be proclaimed morons. This was an exhausting way to live. It was not very enjoyable either.
In short, my fear of failure of not always being correct kept me from more fully enjoying my life.
Finally, there came a point when I realized that I still had value even if I didn’t have all the answers. Essentially, I let go of my fear of other people’s judgment of my value. I’ll admit that negative opinions of me still are surprising, but now I see this as just a perception probably based on less than full understanding the bigger picture.
The point is that I no longer fear other people’s opinions. Rather, I try to listen and understand and perhaps learn.
When we choose to listen, understand and learn – fear exits.
When we choose to listen, understand and learn – kindness emerges.
When we choose to listen, understand and learn – joy begins.
So what do you wish to see? Just the gnarly trunk or the splendor of the entire tree?