'I am convinced that when we give love, it returns to us'Creating a culture of love in Flint

The following is a Flintside opinion piece by Sylvester Jones, Jr. Have an idea for an essay or opinion piece you'd like to write for Flintside about life in Flint? Email [email protected].

As we attempt to recover from the separation and isolation due to the pandemic and as we consider what is needed to improve the quality of life for all residents of Flint and Genesee County, it is my hope that we will examine ourselves, that we will consider our intentions and the potential impact of our actions.

It has been said that hurt people hurt people, and I have learned that we are driven by conscious and unconscious thoughts. Unfortunately, sometimes we are driven by unconscious trauma, and we hurt others unintentionally.

In my interactions with younger people, I encourage them to consider the cost of their actions. This is necessary because, in a moment of conflict, we want to win. While winning may feel good, it can be temporary and have dire consequences.

I am asking that we consider the cost of our actions and work hard to create a culture of love. I am convinced that when we give love, it returns to us. Our commitment to love is demonstrated in our interactions with those close to us and those we interact with in public spaces.

I have one small request: Over the next 30 days, when it comes to any conflict, put 15 minutes between the incident and your reaction. During this time, consider the following questions:
  1. Why am I offended?
  2. Would this person offend me on purpose?
  3. How important is this relationship to me?
  4. How do I want to respond at this moment?
  5. What does my reaction tell me about myself?
  6. How can I model love at this moment?
When you take the time to consider these questions, you give yourself time to humanize yourself and the person that offended you. You give yourself a chance to consider the consequences of your actions and reduce the chance that you will do something that you will regret.

The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, consider that they could be rushing to the hospital to see a loved one. Perhaps they just got a call saying that a loved one fell down the stairs. Maybe they are rushing to the hospital to see their new grandchild. There is a pretty good chance that even though they offended or angered you, that was not their intent.

The next time the cashier at your grocery store is not as friendly as you think they should be, give them a smile. Tell them that things will get better. Say something that will bring a smile to their face. Consider offering a compliment to lift their spirits — that compliment from you could be the only one they get that day.

In your next difficult interaction with your boss, try to consider the stress they may be under and offer them grace. I have learned that we can personalize things that have nothing to do with us. When this happens, we fail to give others the very grace we want others to give us.

As we prepare for the holiday season, let’s work hard to create a culture of love. In this moment of hyper-polarization, all of us must show love to others to heal our divisions. Can you be an agent of unconditional love? After all, we all play a role in creating the society that we want.

Let’s decide to go forth with love in our hearts!
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.