A few years ago, a series of popular books were published that offered readers suggestions about making healthier food choices by swapping out an unhealthy food for a healthy one. The idea focused, not on the deprivation touted by the diet industry, but on choosing foods that satisfy hunger and meet nutritional needs. So, you may be giving up one thing, while gaining something else. The end result being that your choices will make or break your daily diet. I was reminded of these books this weekend, but for reasons that had nothing to do with food.
As social media erupted with strong, very strong, opinions shared by those at both ends of the political spectrum and by those who fall somewhere along the continuum, I felt emotions that ranged from frustration to anger to sadness. Many people were talking, but it seemed as if not too many people were listening. The din grew louder, and my mood grew darker.
As I searched for a common ground, I continued to observe what is being regurgitated all over social media, around the workplace water cooler, in various social circles, and at the family dining table. The result is my desperate attempt to wrap my brain around all of it and my humble version of how to cope with it.
Instead of . . .
- Trying to change someone’s mind, start by trying to change their heart. Okay, that opening statement may have made you throw up in your mouth a little bit, as it may come across as very naïve and idealistic, but bear with me, please. Prior to my former job at a day shelter for men who are homeless, I was aware of homelessness, but honestly, I didn’t give it much thought. Once I started working with guests at the day shelter, what I thought would be just another job ended up being much more than that. Their vulnerability, daily challenges, and personal stories did what no article or statistic could do, it opened my heart and mind. I did not view them from the lens of a broad social issue, I saw them as human beings in need of hope and help. I was moved to do something, because now, I knew them, not just knew of them. I continue to look for ways to be part of the solution to their plight. I also have sought to educate others about their specific needs and ways to assist them, and when others express disinterest in something that means so much to me, I respect that and leave the door open, in case, they ever want to revisit the issue.
- Dividing people and issues down party lines, perhaps, it is time that we, as a country, revisit the two-party system. Anytime there are two opposing sides, a division is created, and there always will be a winner or a loser. Always. That certainly is true in this country, even though there has been an increase in the number of third party candidates and voters. I chose to be an Independent when I registered to vote at the age of 18, because I did not fully embrace the respective platforms of either major party and could not join a party that I did not fully support. I vote for the person, not the party, which, given the slate of candidates in local, state, and national races, has become increasingly difficult, as many candidates serve their party, not necessarily the people they serve. I doubt that anything will derail the political machine the controls this country, as there is far too much power and money at stake for both sides, but a girl can dream.
- Applying the same courtesy we extend to children to adults. Recently, there has been an article circulating on social media imploring people to not make derogatory comments about the new President’s 10 year old son, at least until he reaches the age of 18, that is. While I agree that children never should be bullied or ridiculed, I also am an advocate for not bullying and ridiculing adults. It apparently is not a popular or acceptable practice to advocate for adults, especially one whom we loathe or disagree with, but I will. I am not suggesting that we remain silent about what we believe in or that we remain silent in the face of injustice, but I am suggesting that when we call another human being despicable names, make cruel jokes at their expense, or continuously spit out vitriol, we become part of the problem, not the solution. Using the excuse of Well, they did this to us is not valid, as it only perpetuates a vicious cycle of hate and division. We are capable of holding another person accountable for wrong doing without reducing who we are as people by becoming what we oppose or revile. It is easier to retaliate and hurl insults than it is to speak with honor and conviction or, depending on the situation, say nothing in response. The very children we seek to protect are looking to all of us as role models and need to be able to do as we say and as we do.
- Reading books, not people. We are so quick to call out another person or make assumptions about them that we lose sight that each person comes to us with their own stories, strengths, and flaws. We waste no time in honing in on their faults, perceived or otherwise, and we go in for the kill. Over and over again. We need to take some time to learn more about one another, and if we discover that we don’t agree or that we don’t like each other, so be it.
- Engaging in group think or group speak, find our own voice and use it for good. Too often, we don’t think for ourselves and find ourselves robotically repeating what the collective group tells us we should say or think. When we speak up, we need to make certain that we know what we are speaking of and make sure that when we are questioned about it that we can respond accordingly. If we cannot discuss an issue or a perspective with another person without a script, then, perhaps, we need to revisit whether or not these thoughts and words are really are own.
- Focusing solely on opposing what we don’t want, create a balance between resistance and resolution. When we are faced with something we oppose, we need to both fight against what we don’t want and fight for what we do want. In order to facilitate change, there needs to be a balance of both, because there cannot be one without the other, in order to succeed.
- Writing status updates and tweets, put that time and energy toward a greater cause. I am truly in awe about the amount of time, effort, and energy that is spent on social media, and while social media and 24 hour news programs have redefined how we communicate, it also can become the place where rationality and productivity go to die. If we spent this time and energy on researching important social issues, raising awareness about these identified issues, and exploring solutions and resolutions, the world could and would change for the better.
These suggestions may be too simplistic or optimistic, and honestly, I have great reservations about even sharing them. Part of me feels like the last thing the world needs is another take on the current political climate, and another part of me does not want to subject myself to the intense criticism that others have faced when they have shared their perspectives. That said, I write for myself first, but because I share it publicly, I also hope that it resonates, on some level or another, with at least one other person. In the end, I want liberty and justice for all, here and abroad, and that is a dream that I hope we all work together to make come true.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story