Why We Need Community (even if we don’t agree on everything).
Elections make me nervous. Not in an “Oh I’m so excited and I hope my candidate wins” kind of way. Instead, in an “OMG, I can’t handle more separation and anger” kind of way. I can remember uncomfortable childhood moments when my dad would get into a debate with my uncle over Christmas eve dinner. I hated it. I claimed to never be a part of that. I claimed to never “fight” over something that seemed so out of touch with our lives.
Today, I get a sick feeling in my stomach and my heart starts to beat fast when people talk about politics. If I’m being honest I feel threatened when people disagree with me. I rarely speak up because when I do it results in an emotional outburst that leaves me shaking and crying. I’m left wondering why I felt so emotional and realize that’s it’s mostly about unresolved fear. I’m terrified.
When I was a kid and my dad and uncle were debating that was just what they were doing. They were having a “debate” which is defined by a discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward. They weren’t fighting. They weren’t making it personal. They weren’t shaming each other. They were simply stating their side of the story through their lens.
I miss those days that I thought were problematic. I miss the days where people can have a healthy debate without the hate talk, deep personal attacks, and dehumanization. The debates of my dad’s days are long gone. We’ve somehow gone from cheering for our candidate to an all out attack to those who aren’t on our team.
I get it. As we become more and more aware of what’s happening in our country we take it personal and want to do our part. But is dividing, excluding, blaming, and shaming really getting the job done? Is using dehumanizing talk, hate, and fear based theories to fight fear based theories really making the world a better place? Is separation and hate the answer?
I’m the black sheep in the family that I grew up with. I vote differently from them. So different, in fact, that if we were to write our political beliefs down on paper one would wonder how we could sit in the same room together. However, in real life, outside of politics, we’re not that different at all. When we do let the tension rise and a political debate happen, it turns out that we want the exact same thing. We each want , hope, love, safety, stability, and acceptance. We want to be understood.
If you look really hard you might find this is the same in your life. I’ve seen so many examples of the most kind and generous people I know spreading hate and fear based messages. And, I’ve also seen messages from some pretty hateful people who claim to be champions of love. Both groups do so in the name of their team. Their party. They want to be part of something and so they chose a side. Then, instead of evaluating if it aligns with their actual life values (not their political ones) they just keep pushing forward hating on anyone who isn’t on their team. They want community.
I heard a story once about how women of the old days used to go together to the river to do laundry. They would spend the day in groups washing their clothes. Then one day modern technology came along and they all got washing machines. They no longer had to go to the river. Despite their ease with laundry duties (that seemed would solve all of their problems) there was an increase in depression and anxiety.
We need community. And by community, I don’t mean a group of people who look, feel, think, vote, and preach the same. I also don’t mean a series of thumbs ups or hearts confirming that we are worthy. We don’t need an echo box repeating back to us what we want to hear or confirming our own thoughts.
We need a community of people who can communicate, express, feel, and add value in different ways. We need diverse thinking and opposing ideas so that we can expand our own minds and create different thoughts. We need people to listen and to share and to be able to do that safely without fear of being attacked.
We need debate in our community.
But that’s not what we do anymore. Now we fight. We talk. We project. We wait for our turn to impose. Then we run back to our safe place where everyone thinks like us and never challenges our views. We separate from those who are different so that we don’t feel the underlying and universal fear that is deep rooted in all of us.
Being open to disagreement doesn’t mean I’m giving up the fight. I will fight for what I believe in with my votes, the way I spend my money, the work I do in my community, the choices I make, and by aligning with my values. I may even fight in a protest here and there. But I won’t “fight” with facebook rants that spread hate. I won’t use hate talk or shame to try to get you to see it my way. I won’t judge your values and tell you that they are wrong because they are not like mine. I won’t separate from love by casting someone out of my life for not thinking like me. I won’t pretend that we don’t want the same things. Because we probably do. We’re probably a lot closer than the divide wants us to think.
I love this quote that I read from the The Female Hustlers “The first thing you should know about me is that I am not you. A lot more will make sense after that.” Now, let’s start there and get back to the river to have a talk over laundry.
As always, thank you so very much for reading. Want to get more in depth with these posts for an ongoing conversation? If so, join my private facebook group here . And, if you’re looking for ideas to have an alcohol free weekend, get that .
Originally published at https://www.spaliveaf.com on November 12, 2019.