Walking with Trolls, part II

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist; but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” And trolls can be beaten, too! I have always loved this quote by G.K Chesterton. Today, it reminds me that the dragons and trolls of our life can also be beaten.

In last week’s blog, I talked about internet trolls, those who “sow discord on the internet though propaganda, hoaxes, and disinformation.” But mostly I focused on the “trollishness” of our media (and personal) conversations since the November election. I declared myself to be on a “fast” from News programs and from negative FB conversations.

Since then I have thought and prayed a LOT about the topic of negativity in my life – and not just since the election. My personality is bent more to the negative than the positive. My family might say that I am more than bent! I would disagree since I DO absolutely believe in the goodness of God, AND that He wins at the end of the story! That’s positive thinking, right?

But yes. I do usually see “the glass half empty.” So, this frenzy of negative Bad News REALLY gets to me. I quickly spiral down into a dangerous place – the “slough of despond.” More like a mental swamp full of dragons and trolls out to get me and those I love.

BUT! “Dragons can be beaten!”   So can trolls. And not just internet trolls. Now I am talking about those trolls that lurk in me, under the foundations of who I am, those inner sirens that call me away from my Faith which is SO positive, to a dingy, dark view of life. It’s time, not just for a News Ban, but a whole spiritual overhaul.

It is time for me, first, to try to develop a Godly mindset about the current issues that threaten to tear our nation apart, remembering first off that it is NEVER Godly to call people names. (Was it a coincidence that a recent Sunday Gospel Reading was from the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus taught about NOT calling anyone an Idiot, or Stupid, or a Fool – words bandied about quite often lately. Even by me.)

Shortly after the November election, my son-in-law, John, wrote a number of posts that were honey to my bitter soul. Here is one of them:

“The only thing I can think to do today, and going forward, is try to live this prayer. We must work for peace…. Shouting at each other led to this outcome. We’ll all need to do a better job listening to each other and caring for each other.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your our peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

   Thank you, John, for a refreshing reminder!  Thumper could learn a lot from you! (For those of you who might not remember: Thumper was Bambi’s friend, who shared his this wise advice: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all.”)

Just so you don’t think John is a Saint (he is one with a small “s” most of the time….), here is another equally teachable FB message from him:

“Nobody wins a pissing contest. There are only two possible outcomes. Everyone gets pissed on, and everyone gets pissed off.” Ewww! But a perfect observation of today’s public discourse….

In another of John’s FB posts, he challenged us (his “followers”) to write to him personally and share why we voted the way we did. He warned against just putting it out there on FB, which would just bring about more arguing. John, I believe, wanted to have some civil, respectful conversations. No name calling – Bigot! Homophobe! Racist! Just a give-and-take conversation (translation: speak and LISTEN).

Wow, what a revolutionary thought! I wonder how many people took him up on his challenge. I didn’t. I planned to, then hesitated, then forgot about it. Really, I was afraid.

You see, I value John’s opinion of me, so I am afraid to talk about issues where I know we will disagree. I DO want to be understood more than I want to understand. Sorry to say.

But…. I am thinking long and hard about his challenge. Maybe it is time to “beat” that dragon of fear and have that conversation with John – NOT in person, though. I write a LOT better than I talk, so a “PM” (for those one or two of you don’t know what a “PM” is: it is a private message on FB. Ok, Facebook. But not today. I am busy writing this blog! And planning the next one, or two, or three.

You see, this blog was originally a bloated 1600+ words and my editor, Lisa, gently advised – complete with a happy-mouse-face cartoon – that I split the blog into two parts. Tom, the editor-in-chief, concurred.

SO… “the rest of the story/blog” will be coming soon. (In it, I will introduce my other wonderful son-in-law, Monty, who recently sent me a video clip that gives us a list of things to do to “increase the positivity quotient” in our lives. Please come back for the next installment.

Wait. I think I will strike the first blow to “beat the troll” by changing the next title – eliminate the troll! How about Walking in JOY

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