We appear to be taking sides on everything.
- Gun control
- The economy
- Our schools
- Workplace and family issues
Even Nike commercials.
We've stopped talking with each other. And we must find a way to reverse this trend--somehow.
Because whatever side we're on, it's a side. We become enamored of our position and make statements that affirm our views. Social media algorithms ensure we see posts that support our bias. And our friends confirm our rightness, because we've stopped hanging out with those who don't. The focus is on winning the debate, proving our point, and showing how right we are.
Gradually those with any fear of conflict grow reluctant to bring up controversial topics. Easier to just stay quiet. Unfortunately, this fear of bringing up tough topics creates space for only the loudest voices, many of whom choose platforms that keep them anonymous. And if we don't engage, our voices go unheard.
Let's turn the tide. Change the momentum away from the contest and toward connection and problem-solving; toward learning and seeking to understand what fears and hopes underlie the views of those who think and believe differently from--and may even oppose--us.
Always Choose Love
A new friend and colleague who lives in the Chicago area--James Warda--posted a story on July 4 about this question of taking sides, called Happy Dependence Day. James believes the choice to take a stand and advocate for only one point of view instead of supporting one another other by connecting with curiosity on difficult issues is a cause of crisis in our country.
James suggests that we choose love over fear. When we do, we learn something important. We learn we're connected--in more ways than we know. And we start to look for ways to solve these seemingly unsolvable problems and add meaning to our lives. The problems are only unsolvable if we stop talking.
Another valued colleague, Tony Richard, puts it this way: "Always choose love." He signs every email with that thought, and--more importantly--he walks the path.
In my view, there are more ways to show love than we might imagine. One example: the next time you find yourself about to argue for a cause, imagine instead that you're standing side by side with your conflict partner. Look out from the eyes, feelings, hopes and fears of the person who thinks, behaves, or believes differently. Be curious. Wonder. Ponder. Just for a ki moment. And ask what it might be like to see things from another vantage point.
The remedy is simple, although I admit it takes practice.
Send me your ideas, too (comment below).