I rarely get political online. Not because I’m disengaged or apathetic, but because I don’t find it’s the most productive or effect way for me personally to create any kind of change.
Plus, I come from a journalism background, where my training ingrained in me the importance of developing informed opinions and coming from a place of logic. In a world where opinions and ideas are easily confused for fact, I prefer to take my time in fully understanding issues that we face as a whole.
Often, I find that the more I dig into something, the less qualified I feel to be the one speaking about it.
And if I do get political, I find I either end feeling like I’m preaching to the choir, or stirring up knee-jerk reactions that cause resentment between individuals.
Both can be disheartening in their own ways, because they don’t lead to anything. I don’t need consensus. Activists, progressive non-profits, and marginalized voices need consensus. I don’t need my thoughts or opinions to be validated.
Many of us don’t need more retweets or likes on our status updates. We don’t need more online debates or judgments being passed in 140 characters or less.
We are living in volatile times. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Demonstrations, discussions, and fights against racism, oppression, and the abuse of power are coming to a head now, bringing issues to light that have been going on for a long, long time.
In the past week, I’ve seen a number of bloggers, spiritual workers, and online business owners actively shaming their clients, customers, and peers in how they choose, or not, to speak out about current events affecting North America and around the world.
But this doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t further a cause, except to perhaps act as a guise for those individuals doing the shaming as it can make them look like they’re taking a stand. Plus, it’s not helpful or empowering to suggest that everyone better do something or else risk being shamed for it.
Not everyone knows what to do. National and global issues can seem so much bigger than we are, so much more complex. And the solutions can feel so far out of reach.
Turning against each other isn’t what we need to do right now.
Instead, we need to be turning towards each other and finding ways to move through this time together.
Compassion and patience should trump self-righteousness any day.
It’s important not to make assumptions about what others are doing, or not doing. Someone might be attending protests every night but never makes note of it online.
Someone might be quietly informing themselves of the issues at hand, rather than succumbing to the pressure of having to have a clever, tweetable answer to all of the world’s problems.
Someone might be holding space for friends, neighbours, or community members in ways that might never be publicly recognized.
Someone might be quietly reflecting on their own actions, assumptions, and prejudices, and wondering how they can change.
Someone might be going through the fight of their life on a personal front, dealing with a devastating diagnosis, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, and can’t summon the strength to focus on anything else right now.
The point is, we don’t always know where someone is coming from, or what they walking through right now.
Good actions aren’t always visible. It doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.
This isn’t a time to point fingers at each other. Everyone has their own ways of showing up in this world.
We don’t need to become more divided.
But at a time when it feels more important than ever that we unite together, so much feels like it could fall apart at any moment. Let’s not create more distance between each other over a need to have the last word, or the need to call each other out without offering any insights into how we can create change if we so choose.
Being kind can be one of the most powerful things we can do for each other. I don’t mean for that to sound light or flippant.
I mean that even when we don’t know what to do, we can at least take down our defenses, and encourage others to do so, too.
We can stop saying “get over it,” stop rushing around so much, stop judging each other, stop assuming that one way is the best way, stop believing that one solution is the best solution, and stop coming to conclusions so quickly about one another.
As tarot reader Carrie Mallon put it in her excellent blog post this week, “If you do not understand someone else’s approach, that’s okay. They might not understand yours. But we can all try to remember that there is no one right way. There is no one correct action that everyone should emulate.
“Constructive criticism can be necessary, no doubt. I think it can be useful for us all to check in with each other, to ensure that we are bringing our A-game and not slipping into complacency. When we converse respectfully about what we are doing, we can help each other strengthen our individual efforts.”
Until next time,
Photo by Jeremy Bishop, via Unsplash