Every time we turn around, it seems as though there are perils that make us so divisive. Issues of guns, race, politics, abortion, and so much more seem to keep us saying "Go" when someone says "Stop". Problems abound with our inability to see eye to eye. Actually, seeing eye to eye wouldn't be necessary if we would just be willing to listen to one another without the constant need to be readied with a rebuttal.
I have been so saddened to see how divisive our country has become about the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. It seems that the issues being discussed are not about the human lives that were lost but rather about blame regarding responsiveness, whether teachers should have guns, whether semi-automatic weapons need to be in anyone's hands, and whether Republicans or Democrats should be smarter.
Divisiveness is a choice we consciously make...about anything. People can read a Tweet from a former President (pick one...President or Tweet) and get riled up. People unfriend their friends on Facebook because they disagree with their choice of baby formula or best airline. I wonder what we feel we might be adding by arguing with others about, well, anything! Disagreeing with others is so very different than becoming or remaining divisive. We convince ourselves that our way is the only way to think, while this very act actually impedes us from having civil conversations with others, even family and friends, about topics that are worthy of discussion. One of my best friends and I disagree on a particular topic, and we actually enjoy the art of discussing it. I learn from her why she believes what she believes (and I really do respect the opinion), and I think she learns from me, as well. We have never once even hinted at the notion that either one of us might not want to be friends anymore despite this pretty major difference in opinion. Instead, we transition from that topic to laughing about something (we can pretty much crack each other up about anything, truth be told), and I believe our friendship is strengthened by this ability.
But I see people disavow relationships with a family member over a disagreement (or hurt feelings), and I feel sorrow for both parties. Why? Because in this situation of "I'm right, and until _____ apologizes, I'm done!", nobody wins. True confession: my dad and I had a falling out when I was in high school. He had made some pretty tough mistakes, and I was a kid who had a tough time forgiving him for them. After I graduated from college, I found myself living in the same city as my dad, again. I don't even remember who reached out to whom, first, but we started slowly, getting to know one another again....he was finding out about my newly discovered career interests, and I was finding out about his life happenings. We somehow agreed to let go of the past and form a "new" relationship, one I am grateful today for having. My dad is turning 91 this year (the last of Dave's and my parents to survive), and I am eternally grateful for the times we go to see him and I can hug his neck, kiss him on the cheek, and always tell him I love him. He has a really tough time getting around, his hearing is not what it used to be, and we have different views on a few topics. However, he is my Daddy, and when he passes away, I honestly will not have one regret. He and my mom divorced when I was 9 years old, but they shared and passed along a love for music to my sister and me that cannot be altered. I may not like everything my dad did or believes in, but I can so appreciate and be grateful for hearing his stories of being a band director, playing clarinet and saxophone is more bands than I could ever name, and of growing up in Oklahoma during the depression. When it's all said and done, divisiveness will not be the theme of our story. Just because I made the decision to be "opposite" a long time ago doesn't mean I still need to dig my heels in today to prove I am/was "right".
What brings about divisiveness in your own world? Dave and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage this year, and I would be lying if I said we had never had a disagreement before. In fact, there have been times in which we joked about there not being a need for us to go to the voting booths because we would just cancel out each other's votes. But the fact remains that if we are committed to building rather than tearing down relationships with people in our lives, we simply have to learn to be a "part of" versus "apart from" other views. As scintillating and intelligent as I might think I am (stop it! Please don't post your examples of how I am NOT those things), I can become a better human when I realize that diversity is so much more fulfilling than a billion clones of me and my views. Whenever I conduct a professional development opportunity for teachers, principals, professors, or students in my graduate school courses, I learn something new. I have begun carrying a reflection journal with me so I can capture new ideas that make me think....maybe even views that challenge my own way of thinking. In other words, I think I am still willing to listen to the opinions of others and perhaps learn something new from them and their own worldviews.
With that, I'll sign off so I can go argue with Dave about what we should have for dinner tonight. ☺