I woke up this morning with a word in my head, a word that my brain batted around in feline fashion like a ball of string, until my thoughts became so entangled in it, I decided that I’d better get unknotted.

In 2018, the world saw a lot of conflict, and that is the understatement of the year. But it occurs to me that much of it could have been avoided, or at least mitigated, if we’d remembered one thing: intention.

We have lost an appreciation for, and an understanding of, the indispensable factor of intention…and its sibling, motivation.

This past week I saw it in sharp, tangible perspective, when an internet intrigue blew up into absurd proportions.  All the outside optics seemed to clearly delineate who was ‘offender’ and who was ‘victim,’ however, once the intentions of both were weighed, it became obvious that those labels should have been reversed.

It is a lazy righteousness of headlines in which we are living. We don’t look into details, read the narrative, understand the individuals.  We read the labels, react excessively, and file accordingly. In our efforts to be progressive and accepting, we have helplessly looped around and become puritanical in our treatment of people for the sins of being human.

Do actions and words have consequences? Decidedly so. However, the current climate has demanded consequences of ‘sinners’ that are completely incommensurate with the sins. No longer are apologies even remotely acceptable; they will only be entertained if they come along with a complete devastation of the offender’s life, or, more hypocritically, with a large monetary sacrifice.

I taught high schoolers for 1.5 decades, and I saw the result of this concept of “cancelling” humans for their faults. Teens have grown more cautious…failure and error could cost them. A generation that is fearful of risk is a generation that never tries, never succeeds, and never discovers the solutions that we will undoubtedly need to survive the challenges plaguing our world. 

So, why have we grown so intolerant of fallibility? On one hand, there is the backlash that has come from decades of unpunished and casually dismissed abuses. You can only back a group of people into a corner for so long before it comes out swinging. And many abusers have justifiably caught it on the chin this year. 

On the other hand, there is the stark reality that we, as a species, have a crippling dearth of love. We don’t care about each other; we care about appearances, ‘likes’, the oh-so-sanctimoniously intoned “justice.”

But is it justice to exact upon the oppressor the exact oppression that we are railing against? How can we make positive change when our steps to do so are negative? 

We’ve gotten to the stage where our excuses for demanding blood boil down to: “He did it first!” If that rationale didn’t work for us as toddlers, it certainly doesn’t as adults.

So, if I had one word to take into 2019, it would be ‘intention.’ Consider the source of conflict, and then, evaluate the intention. 

Because I will make mistakes; you will make mistakes; we ALL WILL MAKE MISTAKES. And if we demand the decapitations of all who do, soon there will be no one left to wield the axe.

Happy New Year. Keep your heads.

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