There once were two men stranded in a little wooden boat. For many days they coasted in what seemed to be the direction of land and safety. One day the wind was particularly unforgiving, and it rocked the ocean so fiercely that one of the men fell overboard. The other man quickly grabbed the only piece of rope they had and tossed it as far as he could into the ocean without losing his grip. The drowning man struggled against the waves and somehow grabbed the other end of the rope– and it broke.

This year has been hard, for all of us. I think I’ve shed more tears in 2016 than in a long while, not just for my own personal circumstances but for humanity. As a whole we’re failing– our children, our communities, and ourselves. After being constantly bombarded with this steady, poisonous stream of negativity– social media, news, and TV– I’d reached my breaking point. On April 12th, 2015 a very violent arrest left young Freddie Gray unable to even stand up on his own. There were six officers involved in his death… well y’all know the rest.

Anyway, yes, I could literally feel the energy draining from my body as the death toll continued to rise. Newsfeeds, timelines, podcast, nail salons, grocery stores: every place I went, it was there. It was always the number-one topic of discussion. It as always heated and sad. Intense and passionate, but never solution-based, never. My reflection didn’t even look the same– bright eyes now tired and dim. Sleep became my only refuge. I couldn’t fight anymore.

Peace cannot be achieved from war; genocide, cultural devastation, loss– so much loss. In the end there is nothing left to build from but hate, resentment, and pain. Anti-anything naturally brings more of that thing into our experiences. Think about it: since the pronouncement of the “war on drugs”… what have you noticed? More drugs. How about the “war on guns”? More guns. The list goes on and on, and it gets deeper.

What I’m trying to stress is that undeniable fact that, as I said, anti-anything naturally brings more of that thing into our experience. It’s focused on constantly. We constantly think about what we don’t want, what we don’t like, what we don’t need etc. What if we concentrated the opposite? Focusing only what we want, what we do like, what we need. We would spend much more time changing things for the better; we would do things and say things that are beneficial to the situation at hand and that would contribute to what it is we want.

The struggling man grabbed a hold of the broken piece, with both hands and yelled out in defeat. In an instant, the man still inside the boat scrambled to his feet and yelled out over the storm to his fallen comrade, “You must reach beyond the break!” Without hesitation, the struggling man let go of the broken piece of rope and grasped the remaining piece… they both lived.

We have to reach beyond the break in our consciousness and in our hearts (or whatever life experience we’ve had that’s broken our spirits) and grab a hold of the last piece of hope that we still have left. No matter how small it is, we must hold it tight. Letting go of any fear or hate and focus on nothing but our grip. For if we let go, we will lose everything.