Because it wouldn’t be fair, I’m not going to name names or topics for the purposes of today’s blog.
What I will say, and say it loudly, is that we’re all pretty reprehensible on occasion. Every one of us has managed to set friends and loved ones to grind their teeth in the past two years. Not even related to political arguments, but instead, simply misunderstood. Sometimes in ways so wildly unimagined that it could not have been prevented. Sometimes it’s because of a hurt, a past, a fear for the future that we are unaware of in our blindness. Worst of all, it’s something we perhaps should understand, but have no cultural or spiritual basis to move from in our ignorance.
This does not mean that we are failures. It only means that we have an almost unlimited amount of room to grow. Below the fold, I’ll talk a bit about that issue: growth.
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Facebook. Love it, or hate it, it’s a part of the social discourse in our society. One thing I’ve tried very hard to do is not blast people in the comments. I did that but once this past political season, and then truly to show that it wasn’t as gloomy and bad as my friend had thought. But apart from that exception, I try very hard to be wry, sly, humorous in the comments, and offer private counsel in the form of an email, or a private message, when my friends derail in their moments of zeal and stupidity.
Yes, STUPIDITY. It earns capital letters when it involves off-color comments about race, religion, sex, or sexual preference. Why wouldn’t I simply unfriend them and wash my hands? Because I know that nobody is perfect, and in many of the cases they aren’t as bad as that one-off comment might make it seem. If they are rabidly noxious, they usually unfriend me long before I can get around to it.
But I make the case quietly, with thought, and kindness. I appeal to the better nature I know is inside of them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes you have to “school” someone rather than just beat them down. The goal is to persuade and show something else that is better.
Recently, as alluded to in the first line, that happened with someone I know. Their post was angry, full of hurt and hate. And a misconception about the people involved. Just so happened that I knew the offenders very well. And the circumstances even better. And that it wasn’t what my friend who posted thought it was.
Consequently I sent a message and explained the context, the history, and the people. And I asked for them to take that into account as well as my personal word that all was truly well.
A short time went by with no response. But eventually the little window popped up and they thanked me for my counsel. And, most importantly, they edited their post. With the mere trimming of thirty words, and change of hashtags, it went from anger and hurt to joy and hope.
All because we were both rational. We both took the time to listen. We both took the time to appreciate the fact that while we are different colors, educations, professions, genders, and cities of origin, we share more in common as humans. And when we admit that showing some love and tolerance for people who are really angry with us/our group/our political party/our race/our choice of car then, and only then, can we get past hurling epithets and instead smile and shake hands.
Seems a good message given that the Prince of Peace is being celebrated this time of year.
Take that extra breath. Hold your tongue. And extend your hand in friendship.
See you soon.
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