A few days ago someone on Facebook shared this tweet. As someone who hates political names, but finds liberal views more agreeable, my initial thoughts were very defensive:
- How does someone call themselves a centrist while posting such a divisive statement?
- I know plenty of rude conservatives!
- Maybe this person just doesn’t know how to handle comments without feeling personally attacked.
And then I thought about something I read a couple of weeks ago that talked about surveys taken from Republicans and Democrats–the basic outcome being that both sides saw themselves as the peaceful, rational side; and the opposing party as hate-filled. The basic lesson shared was that we could all stand to interject more love into our dealings with others.
So, after seeing a few disagreeable comments on my friend’s post, I decided to share this type of sentiment. My basic comment was that most people could use more empathy, for others’ political views and others’ life situations in general.
My comment was interpreted as “lecturing,” deleted, and I was asked not to comment any more.
This brought on a whole new wave of defensive, frustrated thoughts. Thoughts that lasted through my train ride to work, my whole day at work; I even woke up the next morning early and couldn’t sleep. I knew I was letting this little thing bother me way too much, but I couldn’t help it. I just didn’t understand where I had gone wrong. How did I end up being accused of rude behavior when I had been trying to share sentiments completely opposite?
I will admit I’ve gotten upset at comment threads in the past. I’ve hastily responded to people I think are being irrational, blindly hoping they’d somehow see my viewpoint over their own. But sometime last year something sort of switched in me. I’m still working on the person I want to be, finding the activist/life balance of what that even is, but I feel like it has a lot to do with true empathy. Not just the empathy where I guess what a person’s situation is, or say what I’d do in their place, or think why they’re doing it wrong because of it’s not how I’d react.
But really listening to the point where I can say, “Yes, I can see where you are coming from.” I may not agree still, but I can at least understand the opinions are also based on rational thoughts that happen to be different than my own rational thoughts.
Although I know with all my reading and learning and reminding myself, I am not perfect at it. I’m reminding myself all the time what my focus is, that I can do more good choosing compassion over being passionate towards opposing views. But I am hopeful that I can keep making baby steps in the positive direction.
(My favorite quote, “Try a little harder to be a little better,” works here too!)
Which I guess brings me back to the beginning, and my reason for writing this.
In my offended state I felt upset and reactive. I felt like my free speech was being taken when my comment was deleted (when other comments were left alone).
But I remembered this video I had watched. And how it had inspired me post about tax reform in a way that actually brought honest, level-headed responses. That in turn helped me understand pro-tax reform views more. I was so grateful that I could come away from that online conversation without anger (or wanting to unfriend anyone).
So, while I wish everyone would just agree with me and realize that I am trying to solve all the world problems with peace, love, and complete rational thought (so therefore my opinions on how to solve them must be correct), I’d trade that wish if it meant someone else somewhere (or maybe even a few people) would try a little harder to listen to opposing views instead of changing them.
PS: If you find this post helpful (or not) I’d love to hear more. I am still learning, and still on the hunt for how I can contribute in a more positive way. Or please feel free to share if you think it would benefit anyone!