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  • Mj Pettengill

Be the Rain, Not the Thunder


Stormy Weather, CC0
Stormy Weather, CC0

How can we pray or, in some instances, attempt to buy peace (with generous donations) when we cannot promote and maintain it in our own backyard? I believe it comes from the heart. It may be challenging to recognize and recover when the heart is overwhelmed. However, it is never impossible to go inward and find what was lost. There is always a spark, which can be ignited into the flame that burns brightly. It is up to us to maintain our inner fire.

We can never find solutions while dwelling in fear or anger, and no good comes from rage-driven attacks. Think of the word harmony. How do you feel about it? We are as far from that as possible.

Because of my background, I often write and speak in musical terms. Therefore, it is appropriate. I imagine walking into the practice room, setting up my instrument and stand, and glaring at the others in the orchestra. The best musicians respect and honor the others in the group. It is vital for a successful, cohesive performance.

When I managed a 28-piece British Brass Band, I reminded the players to imagine playing into separate mouthpieces leading to one shared bell, producing a unified sound. I urged them to take responsibility as individuals—their contribution to the whole—and acknowledge the importance of all. No one is better than another.

We are in it together. It can mean several things. We often disagree with one another. This is human nature and boldly evident. It’s not what we disagree about but how we handle differences of opinions that measure our worth. Have we become so uncivilized that we cannot come together and share ideas, concerns, and viable solutions?

Adult behavior is a model for the younger population. If we view our actions as what our youth is mirroring, then we are in trouble. The citizens of my upstanding community cannot treat each other with respect, setting a poor example for those who would typically seek guidance.

Because we perceive ourselves as a civilized society, we are blinded by the fact that, through our words, we are exhibiting the same behavior we condemn.

The violence that I have witnessed repeatedly comes in the way of words. Before you hit send, remember that we are a microcosm of something much more significant. We must awaken to this and be willing to recognize patterns that do not serve us as individuals or the collective.

Peace and healing are impossible if we are in constant turmoil. As most know but may have forgotten, peace promotes healing. It begins from within and emanates outward, but only if we comprehend our actions, reactions, and intended and unintended consequences.

The profound war of words based on seemingly unlimited media sources is in play. As intelligent, compassionate beings, it is wise to take a step back, breathe, and assess your words’ long and short-term effects.

As individuals, we respond differently to aggression and violence. Yes, just because it does not involve physical action does not exclude it from being damaging. For me, this ongoing word war prompts a fight or flight response. Do I want to roll up my sleeves and jump in with my opinions? No. I see the battle. I see the war. I will typically choose flight. This is not because I wish to avoid responsibility. I know where my thoughts would be respected and reviewed and when it is like shouting into the Grand Canyon. Time is precious.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not dismissing the gravity of these hot topics. I am simply not willing to jump into the ring for an emotional bloodying. I wince when I read various posts that are nothing more than attacks with words as weapons coming from behind the false safety of an electronic device.

There is wisdom in knowing that there will be ripples by tossing that rock in the pond. How big? Will they crash upon the shoreline or gently disappear into serenity. A calm body of water invites one to sit nearby and ponder. Rough seas require survival mode. Do you wish for your ripples to symbolize ease or dis-ease? Your intentions lead the way.

I understand that we are wounded in various ways—our wounds being unique, as are we. It is wise to remember that words are powerful and should be written, read, and re-read before unleashing. What do you wish to convey? Can you rise above anger, fear, and chaos?

Before rushing to judgment, pause; if you are triggered, pause. Ask yourself why you are responding with such emotion. Practice the same when considering others’ words. I believe that positivity awaits when we choose the art of respect and compassion. This is clearly missing at this time.

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” —Rumi