I have had many friends and family ask why on earth I do what I do. Some say they would never want to open themselves up to public critique and bashing. Some think it is just less burdensome to stay quiet. And others worry because they know how sensitive I can be. I even have close relatives who do not read my pieces on Patch because they do not agree with my philosophies; their attempts to keep the peace, I suppose.
I have been writing since I can remember. I love it, and high school was the beginning of my need to be heard. That escalated in my adult life after a brief period of apathy in my early 20s. So when this opportunity was presented to me, there was no doubt I had to grab it. Before this, to actually be paid for something I absolutely enjoy was really just a notion I considered a pipe dream.
But with all that, there are subsequent consequences. There is always bad to go with the good. And because of the type of writing I am currently producing – those consequences can be harsh.
For someone with a pretty fragile ego and who wears her heart on her sleeve, the things people say sting a little more than they should. The personal attacks, threats and insults are becoming easier to dismiss. But I still have work to do in that department.
I often wonder how people can be as hostile and vile as they present themselves to be. I wonder what kind of pain they must be enduring to want to spread it to others. I often think about what it is like to live with those people.
My mother, who has been my closest and best friend my entire life is on the very opposite end of the political spectrum from me and, often, philosophically. To say this past year hasn’t disturbed our relationship would be untrue. I have also had friendships end because of this political divide. I have many reasons to return to that time in my 20s when I was asleep and unaware. The rewards for giving up my voice, sitting down and tuning out would be significant.
But I cannot in good conscious do that. There is this recently developed equation. Social turmoil and a medium in which to speak both hold me to my sense of integrity. I have been given an opportunity during a time in which I feel so strongly about many issues. What kind of person would I be to stick my head in the sand? Happier? Maybe. Proud? Most definitely not.
When I see people who have opinions differing from mine, I do feel a sense of frustration. But I try to look at them as though they were my mom. She isn’t a bad person. She’s funny and caring. And she loves me. I don’t hate her because she supports what I am against.
I wonder how conversations would change if we all just tried looking at our opponents as though they were our brothers, daughters, friends and fathers. I wonder how differently we would speak to one another if we could see them as just another human being.
I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I have had bad experiences to hurdle just like most of you. I cry at commercials. I yell at my husband. I have anxiety issues. I need to lose 10 pounds. I am SO not perfect. I change my mind – or flip flop from time to time. I am often too conservative for my most liberal friends and far too liberal for my conservative friends. And what causes the most trouble is my (often unfiltered) big mouth.
I get that you may not agree with me all the time – or EVER. Honestly, I do. But I don’t get the hate and venom which so many seem to take pleasure in doling out. And it isn’t just me, no way. I hear people speak horribly to and about each other every day. And I am sure there have been moments when I, too, have gotten caught up in the circular anger.
When I am pulling that wishbone this Thanksgiving, I will be hoping that we can start to perceive each other as people not so different from ourselves. That we can acknowledge that we all have emotions, feelings and sensibilities. And that we can find a way to simply play nice. I sure hope this is possible because I won’t be chased away. I will take the criticism and the insults if that remains to be a consequence of this assignment.
I know that hostility will always exist to some degree. But perhaps we can attempt to behave how we teach our children to behave and at least keep the golden rule in our consciousness when we begin to boil over.
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