I’ve been procrastinating writing like crazy. It’s challenging to be a human these days, let alone write down thoughts I feel strongly about. Especially if I think others might disagree with me. I love respectful dialogue, but I don’t really want to invite conflict or attack. I run the risk because I believe it’s important not to succumb to fear.
I still love my Facebook page and the great stuff that comes my way from various personal FB friends, as well as the ones I don’t really know personally like Robert Reich and Bill Moyers and others. Friends post beauty and wisdom and kitty and kid videos that make me laugh and sometimes cry. I’m so grateful.
My FB page is where I first learned about Maria Popova’s Brainpickings and Krista Tippett’s On Being. Those two websites have become my own personal go-to places for compassion, wisdom, and inspiration.
Along with the good stuff, lately maybe 75% of my feed is election-related. I do want to know what’s happening, but much of what gets posted about Republican candidates has been repetitive and sordid and makes me feel sickish on a regular (read daily) basis. Sometimes I feel so enraged I want to jump into the fray and make condemnatory and/or sarcastic comments myself, and/or re-post whatever is the latest absurdity or demagoguery. Sometimes I do. I try to refrain. It’s not that helpful for me to immerse myself in that toxicity, so I don’t want to pass it on to others.
Alas, that’s not all. In addition to reports on the latest Republican outlandishness, there is also —for me — an uncomfortable dialogue of sorts going on between supporters of Bernie and Hillary. Just to be clear, I WILL VOTE for whichever of these two gets nominated. That said, my personal preference is Bernie. I like his platform and I like the way he speaks about it.
I actually don’t have much, if any, problem with people being critical of any candidate (including Hillary or Bernie). I may agree or disagree with a criticism, but it seems part and parcel of our electoral system to criticize candidates.
I do get upset, however, with certain kinds of hostility coming at supporters.
For instance, Gloria Steinem said:
“Women are more for [Clinton] than men are. Men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, women get more radical because they lose power as they age.
They’re going to get more activist as they grow older. And when you’re younger, you think: ‘’Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.”
Madeleine Albright said:
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
For me, these are both anti-feminist statements. They are mean-spirited and not true. And it’s not just these two. There’s a tone. That if you’re a woman and you’re not for Hillary, something is wrong with you, with me. There are a lot of older women (and men) who are for Bernie (it’s not just the young ones) — for rational reasons, not because we’re looking for men, not because we’re not feminists, and not because we don’t “get” what women have done for us. A lot of the women I know who support Bernie’s candidacy are lifelong feminists, were, and still are. As I am too.
If Elizabeth Warren were running for President, she would be my choice in a hot minute. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. And it wouldn’t be just older women, or younger women, or just women. Because feminism is not about which gender you are. It’s about fairness and equality between everyone. The basic issues of respect and kindness and social and economic fairness go far beyond any one group.
Some of my friends and FB friends support Hillary. Others support Bernie. We may disagree with each other, but we don’t cast aspersions on each other’s intelligence or question each other’s allegiance to being progressive. It’s not kind, it’s not necessary, it’s not helpful.
These kinds of attacks are wearying and dispiriting. They have darkened my FB page and my mood lately. I work at not looking, not listening. I skim FB faster than I used to. I look for beauty and kindness and humor. I look to see what my friends are up to in photos or words.
I’m starting a new group on Tuesday with about a dozen people to engage in conversation with each other based on On Being’s Civil Conversations Project. I am excited about this because keeping a conversation civil at the same time we are talking about important, meaningful topics IS HARD. (The Buddha said that people with a lot of opinions go around annoying people. So how to have thoughts and opinions and be able to speak them without being annoying? Also how to listen better?) I think we could all use help and practice. So that’s something we’re going to explore and experience once a month at my house. I’m calling it “Fourth Tuesdays with Krista Tippett”, (4th Tuesdays for short).
Out of the blue, and totally in line with what’s on my mind, this turned up on my Facebook feed yesterday. It’s a short (11 minute) Ted talk about the importance and difficulty of listening. It’s brilliant.
I know it’s hard, but I think it’s really important for us all to learn and grow in this area. Actually I think Bernie and Hillary are modeling it pretty well (maybe not their campaigns or some of their supporters, but they are); obviously the Republican candidates are a master class unto themselves in HOW NOT to listen and HOW NOT to engage in respectful dialogue.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the current state of affairs (the tenor of our national discourse) and how your FB feed is coming along these days. And how you’re dealing with all this and keeping your own spirits up. Are you engaging in, or avoiding dialogue? I try to remind myself not to take things personally, but sometimes I just want to send everyone to their room for a time out. Me too.