Does anyone else feel like they woke up one day not long ago and everyone in the USA seemed a bit tense? Maybe it’s because I’m retired and have more time on my hands to notice what’s going on around me.
My uniform for my previous day job of 40 plus hours per week included a set of blinders. It was almost impossible to catch the day-to-day drama of being a citizen.
Even my first year of retirement was focused on personal projects that had been ignored and postponed for years: yard work beyond an occasional mow, house work beyond the occasional vacuum, sorting through stacks of items stowed in the garage or spare closet, writing the book I started years before.
And then it was 2015 and the Presidential election caught my attention. One of my first posts in May 2016 was about Trump running. Rereading that post recently I was amazed how both correct and wrong I was in my speculation. But that’s another issue.
I don’t believe the election or Donald J. Trump himself caused the tension in our citizenry. But it occurs to me they both exacerbated the soup of divisiveness that had been simmering for years. A soup, by the way, which is now a full-fledged and very large pot of Mulligan stew.
Although I dwell on this situation during my evenings digesting the day’s news, I don’t know precisely how we got here or what can be done to go back to “better times” or even if the “better times” are merely my personal fantasy.
I suspect that we need to listen to each other’s ideas without judging, perhaps by viewing the idea from the other person’s perspective. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: It’s impossible to truly walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I agree, but the effort to do so would be a beginning.
Here are a few ideas:
- Before you lash out to criticize or rebut something really stupid said by someone who is clearly an idiot – Stop, take a breath, and ask the person politely, “Why do you say that?” or “What makes you think that?” Don’t be aggressive or accusatory or denigrating. Stay calm and ask.
- Before you forward an email, text, Face Book post, or Tweet – Think about the consequences. Will this information do harm or good? Will receiving this information inflame or relieve the recipient? Do you want to be responsible for perpetuating hate or unease? Do you know things NEVER leave the internet?
- Before you respond to a statement, question, or accusation – Slow down and consider what you are about to say. Did you understand the other person’s words? If not, ask the individual to repeat or explain. What can you say that would be positive? What do you know about the subject? Should you do research or ask more questions? Above all, DO NOT try to FIX the person’s thinking.
- Remember it’s not about YOU, so don’t take it personally. Even if it seems at first glance to be about you, it probably isn’t. Ask yourself why you’re angry or upset and make sure you approach the issue calmly.
Hey, it’s worth trying.