This may be a rambling, unstructured flow of thought so I place this statement as my disclaimer before I begin. I think we’ve all been thinking a lot about what is happening in our country – how could we not? There is so much going on – the global pandemic, racial discord, political outrage, and everyone is affected. But why is it that it seems anger, hate, biased views and disrespect for others has become the norm? Why is it that everyone seems to be compelled to not only share their opinions, but force their beliefs on others and insist that they agree and support them?
For the sake of not losing my point – and I think that I may have one, so entertain me – I will focus on what has provoked my current attitude. It is not an overnight reaction, but rather an ongoing observation that occasionally raises my blood pressure and makes me question my faith in the common decency of human beings.
There are opinion wars happening on our social media platforms and from where I sit on my occasional high horse, there doesn’t seem to be any end goal with the exception of inciting more divisiveness, hate and rage. People appear to be talking at each other – not with each other – and void of respect, thoughtfulness or reflection. We cannot say that this is an intellectual exchange because the emotions, experiences and biases seem to cloud any sense of research, reasoning and open-mindedness. There are rants. Hateful thoughts. And sarcastic attempts to belittle others, a one-up mentality in outwitting them because we know it all.
I have strong opinions, yet I don’t feel compelled to share them socially. Some may think that’s weak. Some may think that’s fear. And some may think that’s indifference, but let me assure you that nothing could be further from that truth. I’m not an activist. I’m not a pacifist. I don’t subscribe to all causes or find propaganda useful. Making a difference in small ways, every day, is what I believe in. There are plenty of people making noise out there. I choose to promote the good. I choose to be diplomatic, fair and contemplative of other’s circumstances. And I choose to be part of the solution, not the problem. Do I always succeed? No. I am strong in who I am and don’t seek the validation of the world at large to support that – or force my beliefs on everyone else when there is so much to learn from each other. How can I judge, even if that’s my natural inclination? I haven’t walked in your shoes, even if I’ve had like experiences. I can’t tell you how to feel or act or be, because I’m not living your life. No matter what is going on around us, it’s our perspective that shapes our reality. And according to some quantum physicists, reality is merely an illusion.
We have left-wing extremists. We have right-wing extremists. We have race extremists. We have religious extremists. And it is those extremists who are fueling the social fires that are burning out of control around us. Making a point is not destroying a city. Making a point is not unfriending people who have different viewpoints. And making a point is not forcing others to take a side.
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” and believe me, I am the queen of putting my foot right into my mouth time and time again. But the point is, if we actually put some thought into our responses before reacting and replying, with the intent of coming to a mutual understanding – or at minimum, a respectful disagreement while offering insights from a different perspective – maybe together we could make some progress in solidarity rather than furthering the divide.