The election results are in and we are looking at four more years of Barack Obama in the White House. I'm frustrated. I'm upset. I'm worried for our future. However, this election season, like most, has left a bad taste in my mouth and a sinking feeling in my gut. We are people made up of varying beliefs and thoughts, ideas and opinions. Over and over again I have seen people trample on another because they believe something different than you. Why?
Does is make you feel better to slam what someone else believes? Does it make you feel more intellegent when you try to make someone else feel stupid? Does it make you feel stronger when you try to make someone else feel weak? Are we becoming more and more a people of tunnel vision, walking around only seeing what is in front of us and not opening our minds and our eyes to what else is out there?
Having a lot of Irish blood running through my veins, you could say that I come from a fairly stubborn stock of people. Growing up, I thought what I thought because I thought it. Why? Didn't really matter if I understood it. If I thought it, it must be so. Women were surely as strong as men. Abortion was a choice (not one that I could make, but how could I tell someone else what to do with their body?). Humility was weakness. Religion was important. As long as you weren't hurting anyone you were ok. Family was important. Birth control? What's the question there? Why wouldn't you use birth control? Oh, I just believed so many things. Did I understand everything? No. But I would dig my heels in for what I believed even without fully getting it.
As I got older, I began to soften a bit. Why did I believe what I believed? What was the other side? Was there something I didn't know? I opened up and began to listen. I learned that I still had an awful lot to learn. There were so many angles to go at different topics. What did I think about this or that? Why did I believe what I believed? Why did others believe what they did? As I journeyed along many of my beliefs began to change and many of them became stronger. There was power in getting both sides of an issue.
When you are open to hearing what others have to say, learning what they believe and why they believe it, there can be understanding. You may or may not accept what they believe, but there can be understanding. When you research something you don't fully comprehend it will either strengthen what you believe and give you a stronger foundation for what you think or it may cause you to step back and re-evaluate your thought process on a topic. What's so bad about that?
And then, of course, there is the delivery. How do you share your thoughts and opinions with others? Do you bulldoze them? Do you make sweeping generalizations? Are you pithy? Are you so rigid and stubborn that there isn't room for dialogue? Where is that going to get you?
Were you ever where they are? Did you ever believe what they believe? Did you ever change your mind on a topic? Meet people where they are with kindness and openness. Share your opinion. Plant seeds. Give them what they need to make them curious and be inviting enough so that they can ask you questions.
Listen to their opinion. Why do they believe what they do? Hear what they are saying (I want you to listen AND hear). Maybe it is you who has to learn and be open and change. Maybe it is you who needs to transform what you believe and think on a topic. You won't know if you are closed off to the message.
People are going to think differently than you and believe different things than you. You can either close yourself off or be open to the reasoning behind people's thoughts. Learning why people feel a certain way and sharing why you feel a certain way allows understanding and tolerance. When you are searching out a pithy comment or seeking a real dig that comes at someone's expense then no one wins.
It would be really wonderful if, because of the nastiness of this election process, we learned how we do not want to interact with one another. It would be really wonderful if we decided to meet each other with kindness and thoughtfulness. It would be really wonderful if we learned from each other. It would be really wonderful if we lifted each other up instead of tearing each other down. Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful?
Do more than exist, LIVE.
Do more than touch, FEEL.
Do more than look, OBSERVE.
Do more than read, ABSORB.
Do more than hear, LISTEN.
Do more than listen, UNDERSTAND.
Do more than think, PONDER.
Do more than talk, SAY SOMETHING.
-John H. Rhoades