I am not going to lie. I was in a bad place last night after an “incident” on social media. If you read my previous post you’ll see what it was and what my dilemma was.
So, last night I did some reading and listening to a podcast to settle myself and went to bed.
I woke up with these questions. Can we fix this and how do we fix this?
On my way to the gym, I listened to Dutch Sheets in his “Give Him 15” session for the day. I like Dutch. He is calm, he is reasonable, and he seems to come from a place of true belief and honesty. He talked about how God renders his judgements and actions “just at the right time.” He also said that the trinity of institutions that have fomented the division we feel. They are government, media, and education who have brainwashed people in the hatred and division. Dutch feels that the only solution has to be through God’s intervention and we need to be patient.
While I agree that God is in control, I also believe that we have a major part in fixing this mess we are in.
So, after my workout, I visited with a preacher who is a regular at the gym. I’ll call him “C.” “C” and I talk often about many things. He is a black man and I am a white woman, and although we disagree on some things, we like to talk through our thoughts. We have mutual respect and I always learn something from him. He says the same about me.
I asked him these questions. We both agree that this country cannot continue down the path of hatred and disregard for each other. I shared with him my social media experience last night. He laughed and told me that he tells his congregation to be wary of what they say on social media.
As we talked, these we agreed on the following.
- While we may have different opinions about many issues, we must have respect for each person to have his/her opinion and to speak that opinion. We don’t have to agree, but we need to listen.
- If one person’s Constitutional rights are violated, all of our rights are violated. No matter how repugnant we may think a person’s speech is, that person has the right to that speech. We can disregard it, disagree with it, but we cannot disallow it. We talked about the right of people to assemble in peaceful protest. We also talked about the fact that once that crosses over to violence and destruction, that cannot be allowed.
- We are being goaded into these divisions by outside forces, and the only way we can stop the influence of these forces on us is to change ourselves from the inside and not use them as a role model for how to act. That’s tough. How many of us don’t get angry at insults and lash out? We all do. We need to learn how to handle this better.
- It is going to take a long time to correct what is going on. Little by little, as we practice mutual respect for others, it will spread. We want it to happen overnight, but it won’t. But, as long as he preaches the message and I write the message, we help it grow, little by little. And as the practice spreads, we will once again be able to get together as a people and discuss our beliefs with mutual understanding.
- He talked about moving forward and not staying stuck in the past. That is so true. Charles Dutton, famous actor, was once a convict. He was asked how he turned his life around. His answer was that he never ” decorated my cell. ” He knew that if he decorated his jail cell, he would be more apt to be ” comfortable” stay there as a convict forever. We need to stop decorating our cell of anger and mistrust, because if stay there, we will never move forward.
- We also talked about being open to other information, but not just always accepting it at face value. I brought up the whole “Qanon” thing and how some people say that those who participate in that are stupid and gullible. I told him I have read posts by Qanon and as a thinking person I can decide what I keep and discard from those posts. But, I shouldn’t judge harshly those who believe it. They have a right to do that, no matter how foolish I think that might be.
- One other thing we have to stop is judging others not as individuals but as members of a larger group. For example, when people stereotype all Trump supporters, all BLM supporters, all of any group as having the same opinions, characteristics, etc. that leads us to a “us” vs. “them” attitude. We see them as the enemy and not worth our respect. It all breaks down and no one wins and we end up going where we are going.
I know it all sounds so unrealistic. Can we actually do all those things? Can we really control ourselves? Should we never push back against others?
I think we can do these things and control ourselves. We will make mistakes. We are only human. But, when we do, we admit those mistakes and try to get better.
And yes, sometimes we have to push back. When others are bullying, violating the rights of others, or hurting people, we cannot accept that. We cannot stand by and let it happen. It’s okay to stand up for ourselves, but sometimes we need to take a step back and think instead of react.
I do think we need to seek out and find each other like I did with C. And we need to have these in person conversations with each other like we did. It might be in the gym, at the job, in the grocery store, in church, etc. In that way we can honestly connect. It doesn’t start out being about deep issues immediately. The dialogue has to grow naturally and with time.
I thank God for C. He helped me so much today. I think that sometimes we find angels on earth, human angels that are here to help us learn and get better. He certainly was that for me. I hope maybe I was the same for him.
We can’t wait for government, or the media, or other outside forces to take the step. We have to do it ourselves.