Stop it! Just Stop it already.
Now that I have channeled a little Bob Newhart, I just want to add that I’m pretty sure if things keep going this way I am going to crack up!
I get it, I really do, this Presidential Election and the inauguration have brought up a lot of “stuff” for many people on both sides of the line. I want to start by saying, I DID NOT vote for Trump. I am not a Trump supporter and I am not a fan of the human being we have in charge of this country.
Okay, we got that out of the way, so now lets get down to the nitty gritty!
A few months ago, post election, pre-inauguration when the whole world was turned upside down, when families were battling with each other and I unfollowed more people on Facebook than I can even recall, I had a conversation around the dinner (okay, breakfast) table at my parents house with my conservative parents and their Trump supporting friends.
Now many of you 40 somethings know that your parents and their friends have strong opinions about things. Well my parents and their buddies are no different. Actually I’m pretty sure this Fox News obsessed group may be a little worse than yours when it comes to opinions, not that I’m trying to compare, but seriously.
So at the breakfast able over coffee, tea and gluten free coffee cake, I listened to them ramble on about the Hilary supports, how awful Obama is and how people, “haven’t even given him a chance”. There were assumptions being made about “All Liberals”, and statements about how Trump isn’t so bad, or that he is better than Hilary, you know what I mean, you have all been there for this conversation in the last 6 months, regardless of which way you voted.
I rarely raise my voice anymore, I have found it is much for effective to whisper, because if people can’t hear you they will SHUT UP so they can. But these guys can’t hear and damn it I was passionate about this, so I raised my damn voice and I raised it high and this is what I said:
This is not a political issue, it makes no difference who you voted for, an elected official is not going to FIX our problem, it is a human race problem. The fact that there is this much hatred and ugliness in the world and in this country, people seem to have no qualms with attacking others, whether family or not, it does not matter if our leader tells us to do it or not, we should be more evolved than this, but clearly we are not! We need to back the F*ck up and start treating each other better, start showing compassion and listening to peoples fears. It might not be your reality, but fear is fear, and people who have been oppressed, fear further oppression. Everyone needs to shut their damn mouth and open their ears, listen, show some love and begin to work on the moral fiber of our race, the human race!
After a brief pause, this group agreed, there were some spin off conversation, there was a move towards religion and the church and why mortal fiber has dissolved etc.
Then things settled down in the world of social media and hope replaced fear (or maybe it was denial), in some hearts and then the inauguration happened and the divide became apparent again. More people were unfollowed on Social Media and more name calling and mud slinging would ensue.
Then over the past 3 days, I have witnessed family attacking family and people ‘talking’ over each other. You know when you are talking to someone and you realize they are not listening, they just have good enough manners to wait until you are done so they can speak, but they are actually just forming their response? -I friggin hate that, if you don’t want to have a conversation with me then don’t, but if you do LISTEN TO MY WORDS!- This is what was happening, I was seeing people pose concerns for themselves, their families or their communities and watched supposed loved ones and friends attack their very being, then make statements like ‘Well that’s not Trump’s fault’, when that was never the point! It was then that I realized maybe the larger issue at hand is that people don’t know how to listen.
As a therapist, I understand that listening is a skill, I know not everyone has it and I know that it requires practice, just like riding a bike or playing an instrument. I know mechanically most species have the ability to hear, but it is our ability to actually listen that sets us apart as human beings. We have the ability to control our attention and be present for another in a real and meaningful way. So I ask you why are we talking so much and listening so little?
How as a human race, as a country, as a community, can we fix this part that is so very broken. Everywhere I turn I see people unable to take responsibility for their own actions, unable to feel compassion or empathy for another who is hurting and unwilling to listen. It makes me sad, it makes me sick, it makes me angry, but most of all it creates in me a fire to make change happen. A passion to teach people to listen, a commitment to listen more and talking less, a hope that this will inspire others to do the same.
The action, the work, what I propose is really very simple, I was reminded of something a lovely yoga teacher said this weekend while at class, he said that we as a human race need to stand up for each other, we need to listen to each other, we need to say “how can I help”. This is not hard, it is done all across the world every day by children, how can I help, how can I be of service, to let people know, my opinions and view may differ from yours, but I am hear to truly listen, to hear you and to help when I can.
So I commit to you this, I commit to listen more, to talk when it is appropriate, to validate and support you in your needs and to ask you how I can help. What are you willing to do now to make this world a better, safer more loving place?
Oh and feel free to spread the hashtag love! Much love to you all! XO