<rant> I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while. I know I’ve said that opinions aren’t changed based on something posted on Facebook, and I imagine it’s the same for any blog post I write. But I’ll get some thoughts out of my head and off my chest anyway.
I spend very little time on social media because I’m so tired of what I see there, and I’m not sure if the news sources and other available information are much better. We are terribly divided and it seems like so many people only want to bolster their side and destroy the other side with insults and put downs.
What do we hope to accomplish? What is the way forward? (yeah I know, if they would just think like us and then everything would be hunky dory!) Seriously though, we have a lot of big challenges (I’m thinking mainly about the USA, the whole world is having a hard time). Are we going to accomplish anything productive by insulting and demeaning everyone who thinks differently? I’ve been insulted and called names by people on the other side, and now the last thing I want to do is ever have anything to do with them again, let alone try to work with them. Name calling and lack of respect shuts down any hope of communication and moving forward.
I know… I know… I have a hard time understanding the other side too. How can they see things so differently? Why do they think and behave the way they do? It feels like we are living in different worlds. But, they have their reasons that make sense to them. Until we make an attempt to understand and find even a tiny bit common ground we are never going to get anywhere.
I’ve done quite a bit of reading and thinking. The reasons we feel the way we do can run very deep, and changing our beliefs is often changing the very identity we hold dear. Holding up facts and well thought out arguments doesn’t work. Our identity and core beliefs are more important, and we all know that “facts” and “truths” aren’t absolute. Would you change your beliefs become someone brings opposing facts to your attention, and is better at debating their point of view?
But, if we can just listen, make a safe space where someone on the other side can say how they feel and what they think, maybe we can understand a little of it. We don’t have to agree and we’re as unlikely to change our views as they are. But, maybe there is a grain of hope, of a little bit of common ground that can be a tiny start.
There are couple books that immediately come to mind.
Rising out of Hatred, the Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, by Eli Saslow. This guy was raised in a white nationalist household. It wasn’t until we went to college and met some of the people he had been taught to hate, that his views gradually changed. But, his new friends didn’t “teach” him anything. They just included him in their daily lives, and made him feel safe and welcomed and he came to his own conclusions.
Together, the Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, by Vivek H Murthy. There is so much in this book that I need to reread it again, and take notes. We are social creatures. It’s literally our survival and we hardly realize now much this drives our thinking and actions. I’m not even going to try to say any more, except to recommend that you all read these two books.
There’s also a lot written about the political thinking and divisions. Just google “conservative vs liberal thinking” and you’ll be busy for quite a while.
Bottom line, in my opinion, we need to stop the negativity and bashing of the other side. We are better than this. By all means, VOTE! Work towards your goals, but lets also try to find some kindness and understanding of each other. Instead of being part of the problem, lets work toward being part of the solution.