I've never been much into politics…it wasn't a topic discussed during my childhood so a lot of what I learned came in snippets throughout my early adulthood (40 is still an early adult, right?). I came to believe that the saying "never talk about religion or politics" has been a form of repression…a subtle way to keep "us" from learning more about the topics and understanding (ultimately respecting) different perspectives.
In the last few months I've witnessed (and even been a part of) so many conversations about the current political leadership…language escalating around who's right and who's wrong. With Conviction…Righteousness…Attacking….and Defensiveness. People have so easily dismissed the feelings of others and try to justify the dismissal with facts…or alternative facts.
Here's the thing…we'll go round and round in circles if we focus on who's right and who's wrong. We'll just dig our heels in further and try even harder to prove our points…causing endless grief and more division. What's really at the heart of the matter is that we have different perceptions, interpretations, and values. At the root of these conversations, it's less about what is right or wrong and more about what we each find important. There's so much from our past experiences, our stories, our interpretations, and our judgments that goes into what we value. AND it's all valid.
What I value is valid…and what you value is valid.
I don't have a solution to the current chaos (my interpretation). I myself am struggling with accepting that some people's interpretations are valid (because, let's be honest…there are some beliefs that trigger an immediate "THAT'S WRONG" response in each of us…especially when it comes to ethical and equality issues).
At the very least…when engaging with others, if we can move away from proving we are right to trying to understand each other's perspectives. Less delivering of messages and more asking questions so we can better understand how others are making sense of their world…and to share our views, perceptions, interpretations and values…not as truths, but as how we are making sense of our world.
…but here's the thing. I'm not yet convinced it's safe to talk about religion or politics with just anyone.
Is it safe?
Is it worth it?
What is your intent?
If you're trying to win or prove the other person wrong (or if that's what the other person is doing with you) … then it's probably not a good idea to engage. If you're both coming at the conversation to understand and you feel safe enough to engage…then go for it. BUT recognize when and if that safety becomes jeopardized…take care of yourself both mentally and physically.
We may not always agree, but I will continue to send love and respect.
AND I will continue to stand up for what I believe in…