I was driving in my car to work and my brain was doing that rambling thing it does when I just let it jump from thought to thought. The subject was Charlottesville and all the controversy there. And yes, occasionally I let my brain off its leash.
I thought what I might say to a person, on either side of the aisle. So I began to craft well thought out responses and as I rehearsed these speeches in my head, in each scenario I played out, I realized that I would be shouted down before I could get out enough words to make my point.
So I whittled away at my words, trying hard to get my core message out in as few words as possible, something I could interject before I was shouted down. My core statement was.. “stop the hate” but even that was not sufficient. Even then, the response might be.. I am not the person who started this.. “they” did.
Shouting out just “stop” would only encourage more aggression with some people hell bent on “fixing” things. “Stop” might lead to a shout.. tell “them” to stop. What can you say to people hell bent on changing the world that will make them pause and really think about what they are doing?
I watched a news report the other day of a hundred plus year old statue being ripped down and then people ran up and kicked it. I thought about the emotions of the person kicking that statue.. What drives a person to kick a metal statue?
I thought about ISIS blowing up thousand year old carvings, about their destruction of history. I had quickly condemned THAT act of stupidity. I questioned how this was any different. Somewhere, one city was moving its Civil war stuff into museums.. I liked that idea. A good balance between washing away the past, and preserving it.
In Germany, many artifacts from the Nazi party have been defaced and removed. Its the same thing.. a desire to erase something, but in the process it also destroys something we can learn from. Mistakes provide one of our greatest tools of learning, once you can get past the embarrassment of embracing the fact that mistake really happened.
So I turned again to the question. If faced with a conversation with someone that would shout me down.. what one word would I try to get out? Many two word combinations came up… stop hating.. you’re wrong.. come together (the Beatles Song starts in my head).
Maybe it is expecting too much, to think that people that are hell bent on changing things can stop to reflect in a calm rational way when faced with that which they oppose.
Bigotry and prejudiced it was said, doesn’t have two sides. That’s true. But what happened there was definitely two sides coming at each other. If it wasn’t two sides of bigotry and prejudice, what was it two sides of? That question hung in my mind.
We as a country rejected the notion that there were two sides to this.. so what then is the answer? I thought again of the picture in my mind of that statue being kicked. What those people needed was a dance party. I know, it sounds stupid but when you close your eyes and just let your body move to a beat, you lose yourself and you don’t care who you dance next to. You don’t care who else is in the crowd, or what their race, religion, or sex is. Its just you and the music.
What one or two word could I get out, before I was shouted down? I think it best to just point at the person doing all the shouting.. and say.. hater. I am pointing out that you are hating right now. If you can’t sit and listen, if you have to shout someone down, you have lost the ability to interact peaceably. You are hating. Hating someone who hates makes you a hater too.
Every answer I find, has a counter point. How do you get people hell bent on fixing things to take a breath and respect other views? What one or two words might I get out?
I think you don’t try interjecting. . I think most of this goes away when we stop talking about “us and them”, and start talking and more importantly listening, to a real conversation between “me and you”. It doesn’t matter what you believe or how righteous or wrong your argument may be. There is a reason you have two ears but only one mouth. We all need to hold our tongues more, respect more, even when we disagree. Mostly, we have to be strong in our convictions, but listen more than we speak, and never hold hatred. Hatred is a poison the harms the one who holds it.
Maybe my one word would be.. Carpe.