The thing is, I feel like everyone is so disrespectful to each other these days. We strive for outlandishness, celebrate rudeness, laugh at the misfortune of others. We disdain political correctness.
How do we inject respectful conversation back into the world?
I think it can only happen with each of us being open to other points of view, refraining from leaping to conclusions, and asking “why do you believe this?” instead of shutting people out.
We have to stop recycling the words of pundits and start speaking our own minds. We have to laugh together and find points of agreement and empathy. We have to commit to creating conversations and not speeches. We have to cry together and find a way to live together through differing beliefs.
Our responsibility as citizens is to have these conversations, find the solutions, escape the rhetoric and rudeness, find the quiet center – that place where we agree, that place where we celebrate together.
We need to acknowledge that new things are scary and find ways to make them less scary for each other through education and conversation.
We need to listen to our scholars and explore for the simple joy of finding new knowledge.
We need to acknowledge that our thoughts are OUR thoughts and belong to us. No one else gets to co-opt our brains. Our thoughts are our responsibility and we need to study them to find out why we feel that way and why we think that way.
These acts allow us to come together, find the facts, embrace the truth, and move forward in conversation and actions to create our own solutions to these sticky problems.
These acts allow us to reject the idea that different paths are black or white, right or wrong, helpful or hurtful.
Our solutions come from embracing the gray area: a place where no one is right or wrong; a place where respectful, real conversation can happen; a place where people with widely differing viewpoints can find common ground.
This won’t happen in a soundbite or bullet points. There won’t be corporate-funded research or smart-ass memes. (Well, there may be smart-ass memes, but we will laugh and walk away instead of treating them like facts.)
I think this movement has to be small because only individuals can make it happen. Only individuals can create conversations.
We are searching together for solutions. We are researching the facts. We are looking realistically at the situation. We are compromising so the solution works for everyone.
Join me in the gray area where we can make real, useful change happen.
It’s up to us. We are on our own.
Let’s do this thing.