Bridging the Gap…Healthy Communication in a Country Divided.

Let’s face it.  2020 has been a year like no other we have experienced.  Pandemics, a country’s economy brought to a standtill for quarantine, murder hornets, cicadas, racism and the worst political divide I have seen in my lifetime.  The unrest can make people angry, sad, afraid and hopeless.  I have been angry.  I have posted angry things.  All things I have believed, but angry.  We all have a right to be angry.  We all have our own beliefs and our own morals and we cling to them.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Until we find ourselves so closed off that we cannot grow.  I never used to look at my friends and think, liberal or conservative.  I have never been one to talk political.  But I will speak my mind about things I believe in.  I have found, more and more, that it causes a divide in friendships and relationships.  Heck, when I was on the dating sites people say, don’t swipe right if you associate with one political party or another.  What ever happened to decent, healthy conversation?

After my last relationship, I swore up and down I could never have a boyfriend that is conservative.  But here is what I have learned in the last year or so.  I have some amazing conservative friends with whom I can have very healthy conversations.  We can disagree on things, yet be respectful and actually hear each other.  We can also come together to find common ground where we stand together.  I enjoy hearing the other side of things, where I can take information in.  I can question without anger.  I can get honest and kind answers.  I may not change my thinking, but I can soak in the information I have received.  I can do the research.  I may come back with other research, and hope that person can soak that information in too.  Often, I may come back an say, “wow, you make some great points.  That is definitely food for thought.”  But I might also come back with information about my lived experiences, especially in conversation about social justice.  While I may not have experienced social injustice, I have certainly witnessed it through years of work. 

My boyfriend (yep, he is conservative) and I have talked quite a bit these last couple of weeks about what’s going on.  What’s amazing is, I don’t feel like I can’t speak my mind.  We have total respect for the other’s viewpoints.  He shares his military experience, I share my social work experience.  We have very different perspectives.  And we do hear each other.  While I consider myself liberal, I do not find that I consider my agenda a liberal agenda.  I alway try to follow my path and look at humans as individuals who deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.  I think my boyfriend feels the same about that, and that is why we can have these conversations. 

I have also had people that post terrible things on both sides.  “Conservatives are racist.”  “Liberals are idiot.”  These are on the kinder side of what people are saying.   I will admit, I do shut down when I hear these things.  When people are close minded and refuse to hear anything, I have to be honest, I dig my heels in and don’t want to hear what they have to say.  This shuts off healthy communication. I have no desire to be around people like that. They are part of the problem.

What is the saying? “United we stand, divide we fall.” Just look at our country, the United States of America. We are hardly a united country. That does not mean we have to agree on everything. But it does mean we have to work together. Right now there are some pretty powerful people (politically and economically, on both sides) that are benefitting from the country being divided. Don’t let them do that. Open your ears. Open your hearts. Understand that just because someone has different beliefs than you, different morals, if does not make that person bad. It makes them different. Don’t just listen to the media. Listen to what every day people have to say. Listen to lived experiences. That is a life changer. Let us work together to make this country a better place for everyone here. Let us work together, through healthy conversations, through healthy disagreements, to make this country a place of peace and unity. That starts with you and me.

White Privilege……Not a Political Post, a Humanity Post

George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many, many more.  As a white woman, I can never understand what a black man or woman must feel when they see and hear of these injustices.  I feel infuriated.  I feel sad.  I feel heartbroken. But that cannot compare to what someone of color must feel. 

This is not meant to be a political post at all.  To me, humanity should never be politicized.  We were all raised on the Golden Rule, or something similar.  Treat others the way we would like to be treated.  Where did people get so lost with this?  What was it that made people decide they could choose who got treated that way and who didn’t.  Why are people so quick to criticize Colin Kaepernick, yet not quick to stand up for those killed in cold blood. He never protested our military. He protested the fact that there is a hypocrisy that is too big to ignore. The fact that people say “All lives matter” yet their actions say “Only white lives matter.” That is definitely something worth protesting.

I am so grateful for all the people who have served our country, to make sure we have freedom. They fight for the freedom of our entire country, not just our white people. They fight for freedom of blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, non-English speakers and so many more. It is so sad how we re-write the plot to suit our needs.

I am a recipient of white privilege. I know it. I cannot deny it. What is white privilege? The first thing that comes to my mind is being a mom. That is what I relate to the most. White privilege, moms of white boys ranting and raving last summer because parents are expected to teach their boys not to rape. Willing to fight against survivors so their white boys are not held accountable for sexual assault. I have raised white children, so when I speak about raising black children, these are just from me being open to hear the experiences of others. I don’t have experience with it, but I can stand with those that do. What I hear, and take from conversations, is that mom’s with black children live in fear when their children go out. Will going for a run cause someone to think they are running from police and deserve to be shot. A fear that they may go to cash a check and get handcuffed for fraud, and, while handcuffed, be strangled to death with a knee on the neck.

I have sat, safe in my home, naive. And saw pictures of children in other countries with automatic weapons, and thought how lucky we are to live in a country where we don’t have to live in fear like that. WHITE PRIVILEGE. No matter how much I can stand for humanity and human rights, I will not be a hypocrite and say I don’t have white privilege. I am not immune to white privilege, but I have to be honest with myself so I can stand with others. These issues are black and white, but humanity issues are not just about black and white. Its about treating people with respect.

Before some of you say, what about murderers and pedophiles and other people who have done horrific things. I am not referring to these individuals. But I do believe the individuals that do horrific things deserve the same punishment, no matter the color. You see, there is white privilege in the justice system too. They should all be brought to justice in the same way. But many of these individuals were killed first. The color of their skin sealed their fate.

I have found myself thinking about one of my favorite books, “A Time To Kill.” A book filled with white privilege. You can say, it was a different time and a different place. But you are kidding yourselves. Many of my friends won’t need to do this. They are outraged. I try to keep company with those who stand for humanity. But those of you upset about having to teach your children not to rape. Those of you upset that you are asked to be mindful of others and wear a mask, during this time, yet donlt speak up when unarmed or restrained black individuals are being murdered, I urge you, go back to those videos. They are hard to watch…disgusting. if you have a hard time seeing the atrocity, if you are questioning, I wonder what he actually did…these were unarmed individuals. It doesn’t matter if they even did do anything. One was already restrained. If you don’t see that, I urge you to look at that video again. Now, watch it, and imagine those individuals who were killed were white. If you feel the outrage then, and only then, take a look at yourself in the mirror. You are the root of white privilege and that is a very sad place to be.