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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are We Trying to Communicate? Or Audition for a Reality Show?

Nothing can hinder change of heart more than being personally attacked. When our thoughts are attacked and our character slandered, everything our attacker says is suspect. If they are so wrong about who I am, they don't have much credibility. After all, I'm not an expert on much, but I've lived with me longer than anyone else has. 

When we're attacked and misunderstood, we dig in our heels, get our hackles up, stick to our guns, our story, our plan. We grow our backbone, stiffen our resolve, close our minds, put up walls and a million other clich├ęs to say we protect our beliefs in a determined and stubborn way.

It isn't always because we hate to be wrong. Sometimes it's very exciting to discover I've been wrong. It means I've learned something and grown. I have a hard time admitting I've been wrong when I feel someone is out to destroy me, though. As though they don't really have an interest in sharing information, but solely in proving they are right and I'm not, making sure I cannot leave the conversation with any sense of dignity. They want me to know I've been pwned lost.

It would be easy to say those people are just jerks. And sometimes I've said just that. Sometimes I've used stronger language, rolled my eyes and wholly helped them to continue and actually expand on this obnoxious behavior by pushing back – hard! But this lack of civility is childish and immature.

Instead of valuing the possibility of sharing insight and knowledge, our culture values the opportunity to humiliate other people in order to puff ourselves up. Look at reality television and you'll see our culture actually considers this horrible trait entertaining!

It's been very difficult to find people to learn from. I'm on this journey to understand and get a personal grasp on what's important to people ideologically different from myself. It takes plenty of humility (yeah, this is a place where I'm growing – and I started as a tiny mustard seed, so I may be only the size of an acorn about now). I remind myself I want to get past the frustration, anger and hard protective shells to the REAL man or woman. 

Unless we're going to become a country of sequestered cliques, only talking to the people deemed worthy to be in our circle, thinking exactly like we think, stroking our egos with their agreement and never putting ourselves in the other girl's shoes... we have to grow up. We have to get in there and open ourselves up to the criticism and show a different way of communicating... by practicing the “listening” part – not just to twist a sound bite, but to grasp a deeper understanding.

Racism is born and raised in ignorance. One would hope we've learned this, but our continued attachment to believing people are just subsets of groups, instead of individuals, reveals we've just shifted our target to a different group. We insult, humiliate, and slander one another. We stereotype and blame entire groups of people for the actions of one or just a few. We're too lazy to get to know people, instead assigning a label and saving ourselves the time and effort of making our own decisions.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” - Lord Byron

Nothing proves this point more than when someone comes face to face with someone who defies all their prejudices... one of two things happens. They either ridiculously try to reveal that this is all a ploy and deep down they really do fit the stereotype though there is no evidence of it, or they stand slack jawed and silent... because they never really considered this to be a possibility.

Last minute addition to this post - I'm not alone... look what I found Bullies, Politicians, Me. Same same?


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