For the past several months, a bully has been pushing people around in your playground. He’s been talking down to your friends, hurting those you love, and challenging everything you believe in. Every single time you try to understand him or get to know more of who he is, he stands taller, shouts louder and threatens to rid the world of you and the petty people you stand with.
This playground is too important to simply back away from. What’s at stake is not a mere game of kindergarten dodge ball, your country — perhaps your very life — lay in the balance of the outcome of this upcoming election. I get it. I hear you. I understand. Your voice is as loud as his — if not louder. Your pushing is effectively backing him against the wall and every time he stands taller, shouts louder or threatens to rid the world of you, you stand up, puff out your chest and demand that he walks away…far, far away.
I’m not a very political man and I do as much as I can to remove myself from the rhetoric, the bashing and the noise. I rely on data, research and logic; it’s a science thing. I have, however found it difficult to keep myself removed from such a firestorm of character assassination. The struggle of power resonating in the news, on social media and within communities is fascinating to me. I’m curious to understand what’s at the root of this struggle — why are people so attached to this election — to these candidates?
Power intrigues me; not necessarily acquiring it, more in watching how people waver in and out of their own. During these last several months, I’ve watched how those who are in support of their candidate stand tall in their conviction, preaching how their way is the ideal way and as soon as the opposition throws a challenge, their reaction is fueled with anger, resentment and aggressiveness; as if they are being personally attacked.
Why is that? Why are we continually attacking one another over these two people?
Fear is a curious thing. When I’m afraid I typically do one of two things; I either walk away from whatever it is frightening me or I stand there, plant my feet and prepare for battle (it’s the old fight or flight reaction — we all know it). If I were a betting man I could imagine that much of today’s reactions around any opposition to our selected candidate is fueled by fear — unseen, unrecognized and unknown. Rather than backing away, many of us find our cause to be so grand we are willing to go to battle with whomever is standing in front of us — be it family, friend or foe. We’re right, dammit and there’s nothing you can do to change our mind.
It’s almost as if we’ve lost control over our reaction.
The longer we stay out of touch with our fear, the more it will take over; the more our fear will define our lives. Take, for an example, the fear one can feel when asking for a raise. There could be two potential outcomes; one, you acknowledge your fear, talk it through with someone and convince yourself it’s probably a good idea to ask; or two, you stay disconnected from that fear and never acknowledge it and instead of asking for a raise you begin to blame your boss. You then create a world where he or she is a prick for not seeing how hard you work and completely blind to the fact that you haven’t had a raise in x number of years and it’s probably a better idea to change jobs because you never liked it there anyway.
Another result of not embracing our own fear is that others can use it against us. I’m sure you’ve noticed how candidates are using methods to instill fear in the population, then providing us with a sense of comfort by saying how they’ll help rid our world of that fear. When this happens, and people start buying into it, our power shifts from relying on ourselves to relying on them. These candidates know it; their campaign managers know it; the media knows it. Instilling fear gives them in edge in controlling the outcome of their cause — in this case their election hopes.
So what do we do? How do gain back control of our lives? Here’s an option — Tell the truth.
No, not the my guy is better than your guy (or gal) truth; the ‘I’m afraid, I’m scared, I’m worried’ truth.
When we talk about our fears and we get in touch with what frightens us, we take back the power we’ve given away. We no longer have a need to blame or point fingers or condemn. We begin to understand that the fear is only that — fear — and once it’s expressed and shared, we see it for what it is — a simple emotion we can easily manage on our own (or with the help of a friend).
So why is it so hard to talk about our fear? One word — vulnerability.
Why on earth would we let anyone see what we’re afraid of? Doesn’t that make us weak? Well, not in my world. In my world the power we seek lies within this ‘weakness’. The truth, as was once said, will set us free. Start with a friend — someone you could trust and once you crack open that door, it’ll be easier to do it again and again and again. As you continue to be vulnerable with those you trust and love, you’ll see how much lighter your world will become and how these petty attempts to trap you in a world of fear no longer hold.
As you move forward in your life telling the truth about yourself and taking a risk to be vulnerable, you’ll begin to listen to the truth of others and once that happens, you’ll create a world where you see your neighbors for who they are and soon realize you’re not that different after all.
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