“Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.” – ancient Chinese proverb
This is the post that I have been wanting (and dreading) to write for months. It violates that age-old admonishment to avoid discussing religion and politics. If fact, they may be the two most important things to talk about. We just need to re-learn how to have these conversations.
Cursing the darkness (CTD) is easy. Lighting a candle (KAC) is hard. But we first need to know where the darkness is, so we know where to show up with our candle.
CTD: Either/or thinking. It’s easy when you only have two choices. Embrace one. Reject or vilify the other. It is easy to hitch our wagon to a political party that exists only to consolidate money and power. We can embrace an ideology that works out about seventy percent of the time, but fails miserably the other thirty percent. Political parties thrive on this.
LAC: Listen to differing perspectives. Because of our experiences and a number of other factors we will lean one way or the other. But there is always another side, perhaps several, that deserve hearing. We need to be our own information gathers and make our own decisions. Usually, there is something new to learn, since it is highly unlikely that we already know everything about anything. There will be nuggets of truth scattered here and there and strains of ideas that don’t hold up well under scrutiny through all of the perspectives. It takes patience, personal responsibility, and discernment to gather our own information and sift through various ideas. It is easier to t get riled up and join a social/political tribe.
CTD: Vilifying the opposition. This is the easiest thing ever. Find an extreme example from the other side and laugh at their stupidity. Make fun of them. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s easier to rile up a television audience than to truly inform them on an issue. This is what keeps up the ratings on opinion shows on cable news networks. It’s easier to generate heat than light. The result is hatred and paralysis which has become the prevalent mode in our government and populace at large.
LAC: Work with people who differ. We all have strong opinions, but the only way to move forward as a community or a nation is to work together. We don’t have to agree on everything. We just need to find some things that we can move forward on together. Again, it’s work. It takes compassion to hear out someone else and learn how to negotiate.
CTD: Stereotyping people. Democrats. Republicans. Blacks. Hispanics. Women. Old white guys. Them. It’s easy to think of people in terms of groups, as though all Hispanics (or whomever) are all the same. That’s been true every time a prevalent culture has mistreated a minority.
LAC: Get to know individuals. It will bring a rich, new texture to our understanding, resulting in being surprised by how much we are alike and how much we have to learn from each other.
These are things we all can do. But, please, let’s stop ripping ourselves apart as a nation, as a people, and move forward!