In the wake of the chaos that has ensued since Trump’s election…we must continue to ask ourselves: What do we want? What do we really want? Beyond a time machine to go back and change it. Where is it that we actually want to get to? What place does that look like? What America is that? Isn’t it a place of real, actual understanding? A place where the force of this bigotry, xenophobia and fear have subsided? So how do we get there? Isn’t that what we actually want? Not just this candidate or that one. Or to win. Or to be right. Or to get rid of a certain population. What we actually want is that higher place. That better place. That more educated, more evolved, more enlightened America. So how do we get there? How do we get there based on the reality of where we are now?
To get to where we really really want to be…is it entirely productive to continue to divide each other and stereotype one another? Once we’ve digested what’s happening…where do we go from here? How do we reach out to our neighbors, friends and family members that we disagree with. That we have become estranged to. That set our blood boiling. How do we actually have productive dialogue that doesn’t sow the seeds of more hate and more division? It’s hard. It’s not fun. It’s definitely not as fun as screaming in anger. It’s definitely not as fun as getting our way.
But what do we do now? How do we actually get to the place that we want to be? I think first and foremost it starts with rejecting this narrative that we consistently have to ‘other’ ourselves, separate ourselves, segregate ourselves, blame each other and shame each other. That the only way out of this is through yelling louder. What’s another tactic? What’s another way to actually reach people? I think it has to start with compassion; with reframing how we think about this how we perceive others. With de-escalating the rhetoric. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be aware, on guard, awake and ready to fight and prepared to protest what is wrong. That means only that it is vital to de-escalate the rhetoric that is keeping us apart. That is sowing seeds of hate and that is only bringing about a more divided America and not working towards actual perception change and actual compassionate healing. Call it out for what it is, sure, but when we are actually talking to one another…what is the most effective way to actually talk to each other? Do not over-simplify the situation. This is a toxic and slippery slope which once again will only lead to more hate and misunderstanding. Let me repeat: do not over simplify this situation. This is a complex political situation that we find ourselves in. And it did not start merely a year ago. The roots and ties and origins of this division have been brewing and sculpting and manifesting themselves for years and years. Seek to genuinely understand the myriad factors that have gone in to your neighbors and friends’ opinions.
Seek to inspire – not depress. At the same time, we cannot ignore and we cannot run away. We have to go through this together. So seek to inform. Seek to enlighten. Seek to spread real, valuable, rooted knowledge. Do not turn away from that which you don’t want to see. But do not seek to wallow. Or seek to agonize or antagonize to quench your own thirst for blood or for vengeance.
Forgive. This is hard. But somehow it may lead us to the light.
Condemn hate speech, condemn hate crimes and violence but don’t unflinchingly condemn half of the country. This is not productive. All this will do is further alienate and further separate us.
Does yelling get us what we want? Or does it ultimately bring us to the same rhetoric as those we are yelling at?
We must stop preaching to the choir and patting ourselves on the back for our own righteousness. We must reach out – we must have uncomfortable but fair conversations full of understanding. Because when we only talk to our own circles we do not work towards bridging this gap.
Real things to do when talking to anyone (anyone) you disagree with before things get heated and ugly. Conversations escalate quickly and we need to stay calm, focused and clear.
2. If you’re getting into a fight on Facebook/social media…step away from the computer every once and awhile. Get some water, drink some tea…put things in perspective. Click around on the internet for a while and calm yourself down with some cat videos before diving back in.
3. Before you start saying damaging things…try to see your opponent’s inner core. Stop. And try to see their humanity. See where hey are coming from. And come at them from a different angle. Try to isolate the sincerity and origins of their intentions – they may come from a more genuine and human place than we imagine. Ultimately we both want the same thing – we both want America to move towards a better place. We disagree about how to get there, but at least we still care.
Division gives our inner demons a steady supply of fuel. Division builds a wall higher and longer than Trump ever will. Division does not solve these problems. Division is the only thing that can keep us locked into our own cycle of feeding confirmation bias. Of feeding stereotypes. Of other-ing each other. Of blaming each other. And keeps us from doing the hard work of compassionately ridding ourselves of our own demons. We will not get to where we want to go by yelling at each other. By attacking one another. By turning our backs on the opportunity to reach out and to actually connect. To actually find, defend and share in our collective humanity.
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