This is a weird time to be a writer/blogger/human in the world. Over the past few months I’ve experienced a thousand impulses to sit down and put my feelings in writing. And most every time, I get a few hundred words along and then I freeze, stumped by several realizations:
The internet is hemorrhaging opinions right now. It doesn’t need mine.
My opinions on Donald Trump and current events have been well encapsulated in the words of many other writers.
I want to offer inspiration, but I don’t think I have any.
Really what 2017 has been for me is a quest to be a more giving, compassionate, and intentional person. It’s all I can do to remedy what I see as the problems of the world and yet it is so. damn. hard.
Striving for the best version of myself means being at constant odds with my ego. It means quieting the hundred little messages of arrogance swimming through my psyche each day. Most predominantly, you’re right and other people are wrong.
This is a problem I’m seeing all over the place, and (I hate to say it) from some of my favorite liberal champions for justice. It’s like it’s not enough to simply oppose the agendas with which you disagree; there is now a right way and a wrong way to do it. Snarkiness is applauded, cleverness deserves a pat on the back, and true compassion gets lost in the crowd of loud, angry voices.
I am not immune to this behavior. Like a lot of people, I experience a great temptation to engage with people I disagree with on issues. I fight the urge many times a day to question what I perceive as a bogus Tweet, a simple-minded comparison, or a grave inaccuracy. My ego is just as out-of-control as the next person’s, which is why I’m bringing attention to it.
Because I’m afraid we have lost our way.
One of my favorite questions to reflect upon is: would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? In this day and age, the same thinking applies to a slightly different framework. For me, the question is now, would you rather be right or would you rather help bridge the divide?
Put like this, it’s not a question at all. I want to heal. I want to throw my energy behind peace, not discord. I want to help foster understanding – for myself and for others. This is the hard work so many of us are turning away from, because it’s easier to be right than it is to be humble. It’s easier to throw fire than to work together and extinguish the flames.
We are living in a deluge of opinion and a drought of humility.
We’ve become so primed to spew our beliefs everywhere that our brains have been conditioned to formulate our next response even while we’re supposedly listening to another person. But each day is a chance to do better if we’re willing to learn how to listen, and to have (what my former principal used to call) courageous conversations.
This does not mean abandoning our moral foundations. Hell no. We must cling to our integrity with ounce of effort we’ve got. We must uphold honesty, kindness, and generosity in every interaction going forward. But can we do it without self-righteousness?
I hope so. It just won’t be easy.