I’m struggling with the divisiveness around us. That may be a cliché thing to say these days because I think we all are. Through images and sound bites, media along the full expanse of the political spectrum would have us believe that “THEY” want something different than “US”. THEY are destroying our country and our way of life, but who are THEY?
Within my circle of friends, my family and even my own home, I find varying degrees of political disagreement from mild to wild. Racism, sexism, trans, Trump, vaccines, abortion, environment… all hot topics that can quickly break apart any dinner party. And we can indeed disagree, but I find that quite often, once we break things down, share dialogue, facts, information, and mutual consideration, we often agree more than we expect. Without the energy of traditional and social media fuel, would we really be so polarized?
Over a relatively short span of years, social media has trained us to vehemently “like” or “dislike” everything… It insists upon a strong belief, often formed on the basis of what our friends or frenemies like and dislike, usually without the benefit of accurate information or facts. Extremely opinionated talking heads voice their views on everything. Issues are positioned to make us feel guilt or superiority depending on the branding that the media-du-jour creates around the subject. All duty to unbiased reporting seems to have been completely lost in the fray.
The butterfly effect. An action may result in an intended effect, but it also butterflies out in many ways and directions, sometimes down pathways we’ve not even considered. Protecting one person or group may endanger another. Protecting the environment on one level may endanger it on another.
The media poses an issue and proclaims righteousness on one side or the other without consideration of its’ butterfly effects – of the downstream pollution of their righteous claim. Every hot topic is made to be black or white. Left or right. Right or wrong.
We feel compelled to choose and express a strong opinion leaning to one side or the other on every topic. And I imagine that we sometimes sit closer to the middle; we see the butterfly effect, a large view of the issue, and we’re not sure the answer is as clear nor as polarized as the media posits. Work is necessary as a society strives to improve… but is divisiveness a necessary stop on the path?
What would happen if we were all big enough and brave enough to flip media the bird? What if we began engaging in genuine dialogue with neighbors and friends. Instead of judging, polarizing, and fighting others based on a singular belief, what if we worked relentlessly to find common ground, common desires, common goals?
Could we suspend disbelief for a moment and imagine their perspective? See what they see? Feel what they feel? Maybe they have blind spots. Maybe they haven’t considered the downstream pollution of their committed position. Maybe listening and allowing them to speak their thoughts aloud might allow them to identify those spots. And maybe, just maybe, we discover in many ways, THEY are US.
I’m not suggesting that we can live in blind harmony with disregard for important issues. But I am suggesting that connection and finding common ground with our neighbors, friends and even our enemies, has value. Incredible value. When we can feel their truth for just a moment, it allows us to connect to the deeper understanding of what they fear, what they desire, and what they really believe.
When my husband, a retired Marine was in Iraq he regularly carried an ice chest of cold water with him in his command vehicle. When he came upon a tense situation, whether it was opposing locals, Sunni vs Shia, or American forces arguing with a local group, the first thing he did was established common ground, which was easy; the overwhelming desire for a drink of clean, cold water! After both sides were refreshed and cooled off, it became possible to start on the path of finding peace.
Peace. Comfort. Connection. Security. Love. Self-respect. Joy. We can all agree on these common goals for ourselves, our family, and our friends. The media would have us believe that people wish something different for others, the ones with whom they disagree. Do you wish for only your loved ones to feel peace and wish something different for all the others?
I didn’t think so.
It can seem challenging to pause in tense moments and find commonality with others. But it’s really pretty easy. Connection to another begins with a connection to ourselves and our own spirit… a connection to love.
You’re one person. We’re a small company. It’s easy for each of us to believe that we have no power to change the world.
But I have hope. I genuinely hope that your experience with Faceplant Dreams leads to moments, maybe even entire evenings, where you feel deep and abiding comfort. I hope that the next time you find yourself believing stories the media conjures about others, you can pause for one breath and consider what you know of humanity; they are us. I hope you can rest in a quiet moment of love and follow the path toward communion. Toward peace.