This was a hard one to write. 2020 has been an extraordinary year. We’ve experienced societal unrest, racial tensions (that were elevated more than usual), natural disasters, a GLOBAL pandemic, disagreement about the validity or severity of said pandemic, the mask debate, a very intense election year, election results that thrilled some and distressed others. Then, we can add all of our personal stuff on top of that mountain of ‘what the hell???’ Yes, it’s been quite the year.
So now what? No matter what side you’re on in any of the mentioned scenarios, we are Americans living in America. Unless you’re planning on giving up, packing up or living in a bubble (we’ve already talked about bubbles), we have to figure this out and unless we do it together, we will ALL continue to live in unrest.
Is it possible that people hate what they don’t understand or can’t relate to SO MUCH that we, a civilized society, cannot find a space in our minds and hearts to place the disagreements to the side and figure this out? Is it possible that it might not even be hate, but fear? Frankly, it’s not even really about many of the people reading this because we’ve lived our lives, are nearing retirement and can live in that bubble until it finally bursts. But what about our future and existing kids? Our grandkids? Our nieces and nephews? Our godchildren? Are they not worth making the effort to try?
In all fairness, I understand how scary and/or intimidating it can be to face perceived conflict. But who says it has to be a contentious encounter? Why can’t you tell me YOUR experience and I tell you MY experience? Why can’t we sit across a table or a Zoom with our coffee or tea and just LISTEN to each other. I’m not trying to change your mind and you’re not trying to change mine.
There’s no debate about what either of us feel, we’re just sharing what that actually is. No more assumptions. We’re just LISTENING with an open mind, an open heart and empathy for someone else’s journey. Let’s pretend it doesn’t affect you at all and it’s simply someone sharing their story. No judgement, no offense.
Is it possible that somewhere in that encounter of sharing, I may hear you say something that I didn’t know or realize? Is it possible that you might feel a twinge in your heart and maybe even shed a tear as you LISTEN to my pain and fear? Is it possible that we might realize that we have far more in common than we have differences? Could we both know what loss feels like? Could we both know how good it feels to win? Could we both know the heartbreak of disappointment and the feeling of injustice?
Does it matter that when I look at you, I see a face that doesn’t resemble mine? Do we see human beings as we sit face-to-face? Can we acknowledge that we breathe the same, bleed the same, are walking around in fleshly vessels that are the same? Might you realize that BEHIND my eyes I may actually look a lot like you… I might even be telling parts of YOUR story as I share mine. Does it matter that we haven’t shared the exact same community, faith, or experiences?
Wouldn’t it be funny if I told a story about my friend and you have a similar story? Wouldn’t it be funny if you talked about your faith and, even though our traditions might look different, we have the same ultimate goals and desires? Wouldn’t it be funny if we had similar stories about disappointments and fear and pain?
Wouldn’t it be funny if during our encounter we encouraged and supported each other as we shared our struggle? No judgement. Just people talking and LISTENING.
If I ask you a question because I genuinely want to better understand, is that okay? If you ask me a question that makes me very uncomfortable, can I fearlessly respond with my truth?
Is it possible that we, me and you, you and him, him and him, her and her, can just sit across a table or on a video chat and have an open, honest, respectful conversation… chop it up… open the dialogue for the same common end-goal… a better America that survives only through the healthy heartbeat of its people.
Who knows, maybe we’ll actually like each other.