I try to avoid discussing politics on social media, or in social situations in general. But, with President Trump’s presidency, I am finding it hard to keep quiet. Not so much because of his behavior, but our own. Regardless of the behaviors President Trump display, I see even worse behaviors by our populous—Republicans, Democrats, and even some who do no define themselves by either party. I have even had a few choice words. We are a nation divided. There is no hiding it. All you must do is view your social media newsfeeds and read other people’s posts--supporters and opposition. There is name calling, horrible accusations, nit-picking, fabrications, and pure hate. No one wants to have a true dialogue. Everyone wants to yell and degrade each other because of their beliefs of being so-called justifiably right.
The reasons for the abhorrence between the parties, and among people, are deeply rooted in many ideologies, differences in opinions on how the country should be run, past mistakes and bad decisions, finger pointing, thoughts about illegal or immoral wrong doings, and many other beliefs people have--real or imagined. As I read various hateful posts from both sides, I started to wonder, “how can we use mindfulness to create change, peace, and mutual respect, even if we disagree with each other.” I am a firm believer we can disagree, without being disagreeable. As I stated, I too have had choice words on occasion. There are many instances were I refused to be baited or allow myself to act badly because of the opinions of others. I work at being mindful in my posts and focusing more on my behavior, my intentions, and what I really want out of the situation.
Mindfulness is a very intersting and hepful tool. I use it to monitor and manage my own actions. With that in mind--no pun intented--well, maybe just a little, I came up with the below list of actions that “may” help us be compassionate posters, if we really wanted to find peace to mend the broken relationship among the groups and political parties in our nation. The operative phrase here, however, is “if we really want to do this.”
Before you post a response in anger, breathe and count to 10.
Before you press send, be aware that there is a person on the other end reading your post.
Consider the fact that we are one nation, as stated in our Pledge of Allegiance.
Remember we are a Democratic-Republic. We can vote politicians in, and petition them out of office.
Meditate on the realities of our Freedom of Speech. Remember it comes with the right to speak your truth, but a responsibility not to infringe on someone else’ right to speak theirs.
No matter how strongly you disagree with someone’s beliefs, ideas, or behavior, be aware the people you are sending posts to or talking about are human beings.
Focus on doing what is right not being right.
Focus on controlling your own behavior.
Agree to disagree and move on.
Be aware of your emotions and mood, and avoid speaking or posting in anger or revenge.
Be aware of your intentions. Are you being a genuine benefit to everyone, educating others, sharing helpful knowledge, or create a better understanding? Or do you want to be right and prove others wrong?
Be factual. Diverting questions, exaggerating the truth, or making false claims just to prove a point is not beneficial to you or others.
Stay in the moment. Address what is being said or happening as it happens.
Remember that you are accountable for your behavior. If you behave badly, it is on you.
Reflect on how you want to be spoken to in posts, and give others the same respect you want.
Check how you are speaking to others. Is it kind, compassionate, or respectful?
Actively reflect on what the other person is saying and try to understand their point of view, or find common ground.
Avoiding the conversation thread. After all, you can choose not to respond or post about the topic.
Breathe some more! Take five deep cleansing breaths when you feel threatened, upset, or frustrated.
The bottom line, our history (good and bad) has had a huge influence (good or bad) on our thinking and behavior as a nation and as individuals. But, we cannot continue to be so grossly divided. This current state of our relationship with each other is unhealthy and is having a significant psychological toll or all of us. It is also causing politicians to make decisions and create policies in anger, fruration, and retaliation. How we talk about the issues on social media is not helping--it just reinforces the hurt and hate. If we can be mindful that we are all people, open to our differences, and have real dialogue, we can work through this divide. American is not American without all the different people that make this country the great melting pot it is believed to be. We are an opinionated nation. We have many internal issues we need to resolve. But, we are one. We are family. Let’s try to have compassion for each other.
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