What makes you happy? What makes us fulfilled as human beings? What gives us meaning? I doubt the answer would differ too much from person to person.
I believe most would say,
I want to connect more.
I want more control over my life.
I want to be free to be me and live my life my way.
I want my children to achieve more than I did.
We all want common decency, mutual respect, to be socially free, physically safe, loved and financially secure.
So why do we feel so alone, angry, hurt and alienated?
It’s been a traumatic and horrifying last few years. Many of us are exhausted, scared and overwhelmed. Desperately seeking a sense of normalcy and connection. Sadly, this has led some to promote hate and further separation.
The only way we can stop this dangerous cycle is to recognize we all just want the same thing. To live life and be happy.
We all need to make an effort to defuse the current environment and refuse to add fuel to the fire.
Here are some thoughts on how to do that-
Just say no
Next time someone posts or says something hateful, shut it down. Not by just deleting the comment but by also making it clear this is not a tolerable way to interact. When we refuse to encourage and promulgate content we know invites violence or denigrates others, we take control and offer a better path forward.
Find a middle ground
We are probably more emotionally separated than ideologically. It’s clear the majority of Americans want the same thing. Reproductive freedoms for women, reasonable gun safety laws, voting rights, fair immigration that allows future generations to enjoy what our ancestors have given us. Find a middle ground and start the conversation there. Nothing is all right or left, black or white. . .Most of us have diverse beliefs along the spectrum of issues.
Stop normalizing bad behavior
We’d never think to encourage our children to use foul language or hit someone, yet we frequently pass on videos, posts and comments that go viral because they seem harmless and funny. But they aren’t harmless. The more we acknowledge and repeat insensitive and thoughtless statements the more they become routine and then acceptable ways to communicate.
Learning by example is a powerful message. That’s how our children learn. When they see us speak respectfully to all people, regularly make simple gestures like opening a door or collecting dropped items, picking up trash on the street, letting others into traffic. . .we show a kinder, softer, gentler side that embraces others.
Don’t repeat it
We learn by repetition. So even well-meaning debunking can continue to perpetuate a statement, regardless of its accuracy. Change the reference and make the facts stand out. Instead of saying,
Obama is not a Muslim.
Obama is a Christian.
Debate, don’t argue
We all have different opinions. A healthy exchange of perspectives is how we open our hearts and minds to new ideas and grow. Just hearing what we want to hear, staying within our comfort zone with people who agree with everything we say is dangerous and unhealthy, it perpetuates a “you vs. us” attitude. Without judgement or attacks, really listen to each other. You may be shocked at how much you actually agree on or how much their viewpoint might help you to see reasonable alternatives.
We can make a difference. Every word we speak, every action we take says so much. Let’s make them stand for harmony, goodness and well-being.
We all want the same things. Together we can make them a reality.