I wish I could make it so everyone agreed. Don’t we all? I know it’s not my job to convince everyone of my point of view or to reconcile all the points of view in some magical way. And very often it’s hard for me to allow goodness on the other side of things. It’s harder for me to assume we all have good intentions, are doing the best we can, and have some valid arguments in favor of whatever is worrying us most.
I would much prefer a black and white approach with no in-between to argue over.
But there’s no such thing right now.
There are no villians, even if it looks like there are.
There is no cut and dried, right and wrong approach, even if it seems like there might be.
Sacrifices are being made, numbers are going up, people are freaking out, things are being ordered.
We are trying to act like we know things, that right is right, and wrong is wrong.
I have opinions/numbers I resonate with more than others.
That doesn’t mean I get to sideline or completely ignore everything counter to it.
I am giving myself freedom from worrying about what they think or what is being sown because of various actions. I am giving myself freedom from trying to change their point of view.
I am also asking myself to make graceful space in my heart for people in different pain and with different concerns from my own right now. I can create a place to accept the feelings around all the arguments, without necessarily agreeing with every little thing.
People deal with stress and wildly unplanned times with differing amounts of patience for different things. We all think differently. Our reactions to each might look or feel like righteous anger or fear. They might look like foolishness or blind acceptance. People are not simply heartless and self-centered, or anti-freedom and mindless human-drones. Whether it is pain felt in response to a virus taking many lives, not seeing our family or friends for weeks on end, canceled plans, lost jobs, or pain about a government maybe overstepping on our freedoms, all of us are, unfortunately and undeniably, in some sort of pain.
Thinking about peoples’ responses to stay at home orders and coronavirus in general in a pain-context instead of a right/wrong context has helped me begin to be more graceful for people who think differently from me. It’s helping me to remove myself from a right/wrong mindset into a mindset that considers our humanness in the here and now.
People are just in pain (with some having more obvious voice than others) trying to alleviate and deal with it the best way we know how. We are all responding to upsetting news, looking for support, and taking our reactions to our people just in case they feel it too.
And we do feel it, too. We all are feeling some response and we all relate to someone. We can find any amount of argument for any point of view, credible (but is it?) or not (but really?). We have all the fighting words and less of an ability to stand together than we need right now.
Everybody is a little reactive and many people are unknowingly triggered.
It’s hard to know what to do or say when people are telling us what to do and say from all angles.
I’m leaning towards the idea that we’re all a little right and we’re all pretty wrong and we’re all seeing everything a little myopically through our own us-oriented eyeballs.
It’s easier to fight for what we see “clearly”, than it is to hold space for the pain we don’t understand.
It’s easier to assume malicious intent, than it is to open our hands to hold the pain each action is trying to subdue or squelch.
It’s easier to believe everything the media tells us. It’s easier to share all the theories to support ourselves. It’s easier to lay our faith in our favorite solution. It’s easier to always land on one side of the argument.
We need to make more room for our humanity and space for our pain even in our controversy.
The pain of seeing thousands of people die is real.
The pain of living in an unpredictable time is real.
The pain of being asked/ordered to stay at home is real.
The pain of losing jobs is real.
The pain of losing people is real.
The pain of temporarily losing freedom is real.
The pain of not knowing when it will end or if it will go back to normal or if anybody is ever right is real.
Even if you don’t feel that specific pain it is still real to the person experiencing it and that is worth considering.
All of the feelings are real.
Even if the feelings are not ours.
That doesn’t mean we should justify coercing or forcing. That doesn’t mean we don’t get to support actions we think address the pain most effectively. That doesn’t mean our actions mean nothing or someone else’s actions are not justified.
But maybe when we consider the why behind the words, the feelings behind the signs, the tears accompanying every digit of every number, and the possibility that the framework we are working in can’t effectively address any of our pain, no matter where our pain is rooted, then maybe we can start viewing our controversies with more kindness.
I don’t have all the answers, or any really.
But I do know that changing my approach, by considering all the controversial everything as a response to specifics pains, has been more helpful to me than painting everything with the same dismissive brush. There is value in identifying pain, in acknowledging all the concerns, not just focusing in on my own pain, concerns, and opinions. We’re all humans, in this world, in this country, in this oddly constructed system, in this weird phenomenon reported and being responded to across the globe, and we’re all dealing with this as best we can.
And that’s where I am finding kindness today.
All those opinions making your hair stand on end and inciting your latent anger? They are being shared by people who are hurting for one reason or another.
You are allowed to stop being angry at people in pain.
PS – I know this is a lot of words to get through and still feel like I haven’t quite said exactly what I mean, but hopefully that gives your mind a place to start thinking through what it might mean for you. We shall see.