What works you up?  What gets your blood pumping and makes you feel like you need to say something or take action?  What would happen if you didn’t?  What might happen if you did?  What is your intention for wanting to do so?

I was following a video thread the other day on social media, and I was awe-struck by the comments I read.  I just kept thinking:  Why do people feel the need to say such hurtful things?  What are their hopes?  Obviously, they were not intending to start a genuine conversation, but rather just to offer a lashing from behind the glow of their computer screen.  It really affected me, as I couldn’t understand why people would behave this way, since the video was not hurting anyone.

So, what really happened that made these people suddenly so aggressive and purposely hurtful?  Perhaps that’s how they handle every situation that challenges their beliefs of how life ‘should’ be? Constantly stirring the pot of anger within themselves, and thriving in an environment where abusiveness seemed permitted.  In all honesty, I think we are all drawn into this type of emotional overwhelm on occasion.  Perhaps we don’t all lash out with personal attacks, or the need to shame the other party for what they believe, but if you are being honest with yourself, I’m sure you can recall a comment you’ve made that now seems unnecessarily hurtful.

I was reading a beautiful excerpt from Brene Brown’s book, “Braving the Wilderness,” that I thought seemed very poignant for these times we are in; where hurting each other over our differing views seems to be more and more commonplace. Brown writes: “The ability to see past either/or situations is the foundation of critical thinking, but still, it requires courage.  Getting curious and asking questions happens outside our ideological bunkers.  It feels easier and safer to pick a side… The only true option is to refuse to accept the terms of the argument by challenging the framing of the debate.  But make no mistake; this is opting for the wilderness. Why? Because the argument is set up to silence dissent and draw lines in the sand that squelch debate, discussion, and questions- the very process that we know lead to effective problem solving… Answers that have the force of emotion behind them, but are not based in fact, rarely provide strategic and effective solutions to nuanced problems.”

Fascinating to consider that this is how we have been programmed to be.  And what has programmed us to this place?  Our very own fears.  You see, when I think about any debate I’ve tried to have, especially on-line, it always ends unproductive with band-aids needed.  Nothing of any real quality ever comes forwards because people are too comfortable throwing their ‘fear’ card that offers lashings when they feel challenged.  But, if we were willing to listen to the truth of one another, even through the parts we disagree with, or make us uncomfortable, and remove the ‘either you are this, or you are that’ mentality, imagine what we might come to understand about each other.

So, how will you hold the conversations that we all need to start having with each other to heal the break in our country?  Are you able to ask questions without adding sarcasm or cutting insults, or name-calling, or throwing out your ‘fear’ card?  What would allow you to do that?  If I may, I believe you have to legitimately respect the humanism of the other person.  Not respect all their views, or logic, but the fact that they are a human being who is entitled to their thoughts and beliefs equally as much as you are.  If we can hold a sense of compassion, and not immediately fall to the script of our ‘side,’ this is likely where a genuine conversation could arise.  We have to not assume their intentions with their words and choices.  We need to stay a neutral listener when it is our turn to be listening.

If we can’t hit the pause on the arguments of our side, to understand the reasoning of the other, we will never find solution.  And, we really need some solutions in this country.  There is love all around us, we just can’t get so worked up that we are unable to hold it within us, or at the very least, remind ourselves of its existence.

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