The beauty of living in the United States is being able to freely have an opinion. Many family members, couples, friends, etc. have similar opinions. It’s all about how we were raised, who we attract, and more.
But what happens when someone goes rogue? What if YOU’RE the one who goes rogue?
I’m about to tell you.
Some background on me real quick: I’m an enneagram type five, also known as The Investigator. In addition to that, I’m a “five-wing-four,” as they say, which is The Philosopher. I discovered my type this year and it made me realize my biggest strength, which I think I’ve always known: the ability to see the bigger picture, and to see all sides with minimal emotion involved. On top of all of this, I just think about things on a deeper level than most people I know.
I, like many other people this year, have realized that there is a large divide between people. I’ve heard stories about parents disowning adult children; children disowning their parents; spouses breaking up; best friends becoming enemies.
Most of this has happened because of political unrest, human rights issues, and the election. I am not here to “preach” about who is right and who is wrong. I’m not here to say whether someone should put up with their family’s bullshit, or ditch it completely. I am here to say that I feel like I am the black sheep of my family, too, and I want to share how I deal with that.
Most of my family voted for Trump. I know that without having to ask them. I voted for Biden. I think they know that, but I don’t think they want to talk to me about it.
Do I plan on disowning my family? No.
Do I plan on voicing my beliefs when I am challenged? Yes. Respectfully, of course.
Do I plan on influencing the space around me and not allowing anyone to belittle me (or anyone else) because of my beliefs? Absolutely.
I went back into therapy this year for about two months because I was baffled over some of the things my friends and family were saying. I had no clue how to handle it or cope with it. I learned during therapy that it is okay to have things that you completely HATE about someone… and still love that someone.
Boundaries are also important. You define your own boundaries. Boundaries can look different. They can be as simple as deciding to not talk about politics with someone; unfollowing someone because they post the craziest, untrue bullshit on social media; not allow certain topics or “energy” in your space; or choosing that your relationship with them is no longer serving you in a good way and to walk away. What ever boundaries you set depends entirely on you. All four of these are boundaries I’ve put up with a plethora of people.
I always remind myself that we have different world views, as we come from different places, different cultures, and had different upbringings. There are so many factors working either with us or against us here. It is the most infuriating and heartbreaking thing about all of this.
And you know what the really shitty thing is? That saying. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” You can explain until you’re blue in the face why it is not okay to say things like “blue lives matter” or “all lives matter”; why it is important to wear a face mask to protect others; why it is wrong to sexualize women; how to tell if a source is credible or not. But they don’t have to listen. They don’t have to educate themselves. You cannot force them to.
That is perhaps the most frustrating thing. I know there are other people who feel the same way as me: you just want to SCREAM at them. Like how can you just ignore information right in front of you? How can you believe in conspiracy theories but completely disregard science? How can a person of Caucasian descent think its okay for them to decide what is racist and what is not? How can someone knowingly be a total asshole and laugh when people are upset by their behavior? These are just a few of the questions I’ve been pondering this year.
There are a few things I’ve realized.
First of all, a lot of people live in bubbles of ignorant bliss. If something doesn’t directly impact them or their life, then they simply don’t pay attention to it. Must be nice, right?
Second, some people just truly lack critical thinking skills.
Third, a lot of individuals are not willing to learn new things, especially if said new things will make them uncomfortable. In the case of 2020, a lot of people I’ve had conversations with simply don’t want to learn new things or do the work that has been needed for a LONG time because it makes them realize that they have unknowingly been contributing to the issues at hand.
The first thing we have to do to change the course we are on is to take in new information and use it to change. But people don’t want to do that because that will mean changing certain comfortable aspects of their life.
Lastly, there is no way those of us who are aware can drag people out of their bubbles if they don’t want to be dragged out. We can’t magically teach people critical thinking skills in a single blog post or YouTube video. We can’t FORCE people to learn new things if they aren’t willing to open their eyes, ears, minds, and hearts.
What can we do? What have I been doing?
Influencing the space around me. Making sure I do the work that is needed so I can educate others. It is also incredibly important to me to be able to educate my kids, when we have kids. I want my kids to be aware, open-minded, empathetic, and critical thinkers. I want them to stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone.
Debating when appropriate. Sometimes, debating with certain people aren’t worth it. Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who are just jerks simply because they love to get a rise out of people. The best thing we can do when it comes to these people is keep our distance and not play their game. When you ignore their ignorance instead of giving them the attention they are begging for, you are the one winning their game.
Never resorting to insults. I truly believe that the moment we stop debating facts and start hurling insults back and forth is when the debate is a lost cause. We are no longer trying to educate, be open-minded, or have an intellectual discussion; now we are just hurting one another and being unkind. That is counterproductive to our goal!
And of course, putting a foot down when someone is truly just being a mean-hearted and hateful person. There is NEVER a good reason to be hateful. There is NEVER a good reason to discriminate.
We can debate politics all day, but being a decent human being and treating other humans with respect and equality is never, ever up for debate.