This week brought 12 unfriendings, 3 really awful comments to be deleted and a need to start censuring posts. I’m reminded that what I put on the Internet takes on a life of its own that I have zero control over. I guess we all need a reminder every once in a while.
The unfriendings happened for several reasons. The most common reason was a comment I made (as well as a blog entry) supporting police officers. Not dismissing recent events. Not shaming or blaming. Just stating that police officers are our thin blue line that keeps us safe. Suddenly, I’m a racist pig. I’m a 1% who could never understand struggle. I believe that the victims are completely at fault. Literally, my social media blew up in my face.
The second most common reason is a post about World AIDS day, which was December 1. About 6 people informed me that I was going to hell. A few others took it upon themselves to point out that December is the month of Christmas and how dare I bring up such an un-Christian topic. And yet a few more condemned my efforts to raise awareness about a disease that affects a broad spectrum of society. I was told that AIDS doesn’t deserve research dollars because there are other diseases that people didn’t “bring on themselves.”
Truth? Your attitude shows me your true colors. Anyone who has actually met me will tell you I get along with 99% of the people I meet. They’ll tell you my personal space is comfortable for them. It’s a no judgment zone. They can tell me anything because I listen and empathize. Yes, I have the things I feel passionate about. Yes, I have opinions about politics, religion and even justice. I’m human just like you.
However, I don’t believe my opinions are the end of discussions. I don’t believe my ideas are superior to anyone else’s. I don’t believe that we all have to be passionate about the same things. I certainly don’t believe that I must shove my beliefs in your face.
So, to those who can’t see the hurt they are causing, I hope one day you realize that causing pain doesn’t accomplish anything. To those who feel they must take sides and polarize communities, I wish for understanding. To those who carry deep passion, I hope your love can extend to those who may not see your vision.
This isn’t about politics, ethnicity, religion or equality. It’s about people. It’s about accepting that we all feel differently about events and we all respond differently to actions. It is about trying to understand each other better so we can close gaps and cross bridges. It’s about seeing past our own perspective to learn what other people see.
Your challenge: Step outside your zone. Not your comfort zone, but the one where the people around you all feel similarly about things. Look at where you live and try to understand your community from a different perspective. Take the time to think about what you’re going to say and how it could impact others. These few gestures won’t take much of your time and the insight you gain and then share makes a difference.