In this pandemic era, any semblance of civil discourse between two opposing sides is becoming rarer and rarer. There is a civil unrest that has clearly enveloped our country and threatens to tear it apart.
"I appreciate your view, but disagree with x, y, and z for these reasons"
has been replaced with
"You're a fucking idiot."
"You fucking make me laugh." "Have you seriously always been this dumb?"
Or some sarcastic or passive-aggressive comment that undermines the opposing side.
This goes for both sides. It includes strangers, many of my friends, and yup, even myself at times.
Sometimes the frustration just boils over, and even though I try my best to avoid it, sometimes fail. Even today.
It was a small sarcastic comment made to undermine the one I responded too, and I was ashamed I allowed myself to do so. It was SO hard not to engage, but I know nothing of substance was going to be derived with that attitude.
I have been told I am a better person than most with the way I overall respond to people, but it is usually because I have a clear intention and purpose when I respond. Not one of insult, but one to ensure my message is received clearly without malintent.
And if someone has no interest in actually engaging in something productive, an online forum is the absolute WORST place to try and do so. And if it is clear this is the direction the conversation is going, it is best to end the conversation being the better person than to continue going down this rabbit hole.
It is funny. We know words have the power to heal and bridge gaps, yet our initial reaction many times it to use them as weapons to create a wound or rip an existing wound wide open.
As Sigmund Freud once stated:
“Words have a magical power. They can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair.”
We all speak at least one language fluently. But far fewer speak their language EFFECTIVELY.
And as a result, people in general fucking suck at communicating.
Just think how powerful these 3 words are:
"I am sorry." "I fucked up." "I am responsible."
So powerful. Words powerful enough to make most situations infinitely better. Yet three words that are so difficult for many to ever say or admit.
This is not a post about asking for forgiveness, or admitting you are wrong. But to demonstrate the words we choose ultimately represent who we are as individuals, our values, our intent.
The way we communicate matters.
And the great thing about this is we have control over the words we use. We have choice.
Once a word is actually spoken though, those words cannot be taken back. Regret is not uncommon as sometimes those words are said in a moment of intense emotion without much foresight.
As in everything in life, control what you can control. And your choice of words and delivery are both within your control.
Resist typing out an immediate response and hitting "enter". Resist yelling at a stranger or friends and step away.
Take a breath. Calm yourself.
Because all you ultimately do is undermine the beauty of who you are as a person, and you become a poison not only to the world around you, but to yourself.
I am not saying to lose passion in your responses. Not to express frustration. But keep your focus on the message you want the other person to receive without resorting to individual attacks.
Your message will disintegrate instantly without fail.
It is pretty disappointing when people are unable to recognize the way they communicate directly contributes to how people react to that communication.
If you communicate with another, and they react in a way which you did not intend, then it is your responsibility to determine where you went awry in terms of your communication. You need to question how you could have communicated better.
But NOT to question another's reaction which YOU CANNOT CONTROL.
If someone laughs at something you said when you were serious, ask yourself why.
If someone becomes defensive, ask yourself why.
If someone takes offense to you, ask yourself why.
Accusing someone of being insensitive or sensitive is an excuse for you to not take responsibility for how your actions, your choices impact the world around you.
You can only control yourself, not others reactions. But you CAN influence them.
The number of times I have simply used some iteration of the words
"I am not sure why you are insulting me or being so aggressive with me when I am engaging with you civilly."
and subsequently had the other person immediately alter their tone is innumerable.
Act like a child with a child, or act like an adult with a child. And many times, an adult will then want to act like an adult.
It is a major flex in these types of situations.
But some peoples goal is to just be a dick and offend someone, no matter how civil you are. And well, let them be. It is okay to do so. Just let it go.
Do not allow your desire to be right or demean another outweigh your desire to actually be understood. To represent your character. To not lose sight of your message.
Some people are just not open-minded. But those may actually be so but never get the opportunity to demonstrate it because they are preconditioned with a "fight-or-flight" response due to previous interactions.
Always going on the defensive because they assume the other is going to get offensive. And vice versa.
They never get a chance to relax for even a moment. And this can become overly taxing and make it difficult for someone to be open and reasonable when faced with an open and reasonable person for the first time.
When most people lash out at others, most people lash back. And this happens with strangers AND our closest loved ones. Our emotion outweighs our rational thought.
And using the excuse, "well, that's how I felt and I wanted them to know" is admitting your feelings are the only thing that matters, not the others.
We talk a lot about how wearing a mask is a sign of respect for others. Well, treating another human being with respect and integrity is a sign of respect as well.
You cannot control if someone wears a mask. You cannot control if they will treat you with respect and integrity. But you can control if YOU wear a mask. And you can control how YOU treat others.
This is when you are the most powerful, the most influential self.
The end goal must always be the primary focus in every situation. Intentional action is the name of the game.
I enjoy writing because it is cathartic, and provides me an effective medium to share my thoughts and feelings to others.
But even more powerfully, it allows me the opportunity of hindsight.
I have an opportunity to look back and allow my thoughts to coalesce and reorganize and form the finished product, the final message I originally intended. Near perfection in an instance is not the norm and can be clouded due to emotion, fatigue, and many other things.
I get to take a breath. Usually multiple.
And the beauty of writing is your words do not exist to the world until you choose for those words to exist.
If anyone could see what my initial drafts of my post looked like, you would be shocked. This post now looks NOTHING like my original draft.
And the reason for this is I cannot risk losing sight of my end goal. It is one of inclusivity, not exclusivity.
And my intent drives this focus nonstop.
So breathe. And set your intention.
An intention focused on love, patience, and unity.
Or one to sow divisions and tear your relationships, others, and this country, apart.
Your choice. Because you always have a choice.