It’s no secret that this past week has brought out a lot of negativity on social media and even in our in-person interactions. After over a year of campaigning, and trash-talking, scandal-unveiling and commercials, Americans are left to a screeching halt as soon as the president-elect is announced. Unfortunately, this year seemed to be the most heated election in recent history. Without getting political, this blog is to shed some light on how one can compassionately interact with someone who has opposing views.
As a titleholder, you are constantly being watched and judged. While this is part of the “job-description”, it can be overwhelming at times to know that you must always make sure that you state your opinion and beliefs in a respectful manner. If only everyone held titles, right? While I choose not to blast who I’m voting for or why, or my stance on certain issues—I am always one to welcome discussion and opinions (as long as they are respectful) because I believe it makes a person well-rounded and empathetic. I will always call my friends and family to hold themselves to a higher standard and remind them that while practicing our civic duties, one should aim to be civil. It’s always interesting that when you take the time to listen, you might realize that you learn something. Whether it’s good information, or information that disturbs you—taking that time to allow another person to express their beliefs is a crucial piece in the pie of humanity.
While listening to someone who has drastically different experiences than you can be enough to make you crawl out of your skin, it can only do you as a person more good than harm. Even if it means making you stronger in your convictions. This past Monday, I was at mock interviews with my coach (keeping your interview skills sharp is a must—even after winning the crown!) and in listening to the views of those around me, I felt obligated to share my experiences. See, it is possible to live in the same country as another person, yet experience completely different realities. As an African-American woman married to a Norwegian immigrant with interracial children, my reality has forced me to think outside of my “box” and consider what others around me know to be true for them. I can’t say I haven’t been disappointed with posts on Facebook from former friends who deny the reality I have lived and experienced, but I have chosen to use these moments as learning opportunities. These moments could have been arguments drenched in hostility, but I choose to share, teach, listen and learn. People who had views that I don’t share all of a sudden made more sense to me that they could hold them, though drastically different than my own. I saw understanding and compassion light up in their eyes as I was able to share my truths as well. Isn’t that how it should be? Shouldn’t we all be able to listen with the intent to learn, rather than just to respond?
In my faith, we are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves—not just the neighbors that agree with us. While there are some things that I truly don’t agree with nor understand, when understanding the heart of the person it’s coming from, I have found respect for them and that I can love them all the same, as long as their heart is in the right place.
This week, I challenge you to listen. I also challenge you to speak up, speak your truth, and speak for those whose voices are often squashed into silence. If we are going to work to unite our country, that doesn’t start in the White House, it must start in our homes and in our own hearts.
Take the challenge to put the “civil” back in civilian and you’ll be surprised what you might find.
Making the minutes count,