For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, as stated in Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Although Newton was arguing in terms of physics, I like to adopt the mindset of applying this to my personal life. For every one of my actions, thoughts, and words, there is a reaction onto others. If I do good, there’ll be positive reactions. If I do bad, I’ll initiate negative reactions. No math is required, and it’s an easy concept to grasp.
I can build someone up through positive reinforcement and being honest. Giving someone good feedback or advice can enable a positive reaction, fostering growth and improvement. At the same time, I can be negative in my thoughts and actions, and use by energy to bring down and destroy their reputation, confidence, and overall well-being. There is nothing complicated about this, yet so many times I see instances of people simply not being cognizant of their actions, and they’re surprised when something negative occurs as a result.
Our thoughts always influence our words and actions. It’s a simple decision to make, and only requires being mindful or where you are, and what type of person you want to be. And I’ll tell you this, the world can use many more people who choose to bring about goodness and positivity.
The pictures of the boys disrupting and mocking members of the Indigenous People’s March in Washington, DC are circulating through the Internet and social media sites like wildfire as I write this. In fact, a quick search returns numerous articles, pictures, and videos documenting the scene. The picture of the young man smirking in the face of Nathan Phillips, an Omaha Nation elder and Vietnam veteran will most assuredly be one of the photos that will always be associated with this period of time in our national politics. In a time when people are turning the other way when groups are dehumanized, or in abhorrent cases, taken away from their families, a boy wearing a red hat, smirking, will be linked with this period of time.
This boy, and his group of school mates, could have used the opportunity to learn about something, or to see an event they most likely never witnessed. Seeing a group of indigenous marchers is an excellent opportunity to learn the lessons of our history, and to gain insight into tolerance. The history of our indigenous tribes is written in blood and broken promises, and is something we all should learn more about. To be able to empathize with others is an excellent way to learn and grow, and this could have been an excellent opportunity. However, these boys chose to be disruptive and to duplicate what they see from others, even the childish and negative actions by what are supposed to be our national leaders. They disrupted. They tried to dehumanize these individuals. They were not respectful. They may not have agreed with the sentiment of the marchers, and that is their prerogative, but they decided to take action, which will now have some unexpected reactions. The emulated what they see every day on Twitter dumps instead of thinking and being positive.
Instead of enjoying a trip to our nation’s capital, these boys are quickly learning a valuable life lesson. For every action, there are reactions. The Covington Catholic High School, and the Diocese of Covington are having to make emergency actions to address this public relations nightmare. Godly institutions that should provide fuel for the soul are more associated by the actions of these boys. They’ll most likely be punished in some fashion, including expulsion from their school. But I fear the long term ramifications will be more severe. The smirking boy in most of the videos and pictures may now be the face of intolerance and ignorance. Years from now, a quick search on the Internet will most certainly pull photos from this march. This may not be fair, but if they sat back and observed the march instead of being disruptive, things may be quite different for each of them now. I hope they use this negative experience as a lesson and are emerge better for it. There’s always an option to convert something into a positive, but it’ll not be easy.
Always be mindful of others, even when they are representing a side of an argument you disagree with, or a way of life different from you. You don’t have to agree with what they’re saying, but you can make a positive difference if you choose. If we all try to learn about others that may be different, we can all gain understanding. Whether in work, or life, the attitude and the mindset you put yourself in can be an significant source of positivity, or negativity. The choice if always yours to make one way or the other.
A single action on your part may forever make you a symbol of something you would not be proud of. For the boys in the video, they can serve as a lesson for everyone. Create goodwill through your positive actions. If you do so, you’ll reap the benefits in your profession and in life.
“While I was there singing, I heard them saying ‘Build that wall! Build that wall!’, you know… this is indigenous land! …We’re not supposed to have walls here, we never did—for millennium. Before anybody else came here we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took care of our elders, we took care of our children. We always provided for them, you know. We taught them right from wrong. I wish I could see that energy of the young mass, the young men, put their energy into making this into a really great country.” – Nathan Phillips