Midterms. The word brings up immediate panic as visions of large pots of coffee and all night study sessions dance through my head. But in this case, we aren’t talking about school. We’re talking about something much more daunting. Government.
Yes, this November marks a major election as 35 seats in the Senate and all 435 seats in The House of Representatives are up for grabs. This also serves as a type of midterm exam for the current administration. If the people like what’s happening then the Republicans stay in control. If they don’t, we may see a Democratic shift in power.
What concerns me most is that our government, and therefore our whole society, has adopted an “Us Vs. Them” mentality. Democrats only vote for bills proposed by Democrats. Republicans only vote for bills proposed by Republicans. Pretty soon they’ll be Mean Girl-ing the new kid in the cafeteria and solving disagreements with wet willies in the bathroom. What happened to an individual mind actually listening, weighing the pros and cons, and voting on behalf of their constituents?
After watching night after night of CNN, which more often resembles The Jersey Shore than news programming, I’m not really surprised that in every day society, and especially on social media, the general public is spouting off hate quicker than a spurned baby momma can take down her guy on Maury Povich.
But here’s an idea: Let’s be BETTER than our government. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world. The next time we are faced with one of these situations, why don’t we try something different.
EXAMPLE #1: You Find Out Someone Voted for Trump
- You may WANT to say: “You are obviously a racist and the most greedy, moral-less white collar crook since Martha Stewart.”
- What you SHOULD say: “It looks like we have different views. I’m interested in trying to understand yours.”
The fact of the matter is, no one is EVER going to have the same opinion, and just because it’s different than yours does not necessarily mean they are secretly in the KKK or funneling money to an off shore account. I had a Mexican co-worker who was VERY pro Trump. This was due to her personal experience with immigration. She felt that if she had to go through a lengthy processes to enter the country legally, and then study for years to gain citizenship, why shouldn’t everyone else? This did NOT mean she wanted families separated or human rights violated. It meant she was hoping for more regulations to be established, which would be fair to everyone. I would never have considered this point of view if I hadn’t sat down to have a friendly conversation with her.
EXAMPLE #2: Someone Posts an Opposing View on Facebook or Twitter
- You may WANT to jump in and school them with: “Hey, ignorant (insert derogatory cuss word here)! Why should an 80 year old MAN get to make decisions about MY body?
- What you SHOULD do: Write a calm reply copying an article about the reasons Roe vs. Wade passed in the first place.
I have a friend who is vegan. I am probably the biggest carnivore on the planet. Day after day she aggressively posted that anyone who ate meat was a murderer with no soul. I don’t consider myself a bad person and these posts made me completely tune out anything she had to say. But one day she posted an article about chickens and the benefits of being cage free. I read this article and understood. I didn’t feel attacked and for the first time wanted to do something in aiding the cause of animal treatment. My point is, aggression will never help change someone’s mind. It just causes them to go on the defense.
EXAMPLE #3: Someone Personally Attacks Your Point of View
- You may WANT to scream: “F*$k you!”
- What you should actually do: Assess the situation. If it’s a friend that you can calmly reason with, try leveling with them. If the person is clearly coming from a place of hate, just walk away.
At the end of the day, we can’t solve all the world’s problems. But we can start by not adding to them.