BIGOT

Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices;especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I need to write this. Maybe not for you, or anyone else, maybe just for me. But I don’t care, I am going to write it. It has been cluttering my mind for days, weeks, maybe even years. I think if I write it, I will feel some of my stress alleviate.

I hate this word.

I hate how it sounds.

I hate how it is written.

I hate how it is shouted.

I hate how it is misunderstood.

I have yet to hear it from someone who is not exhibiting some form of bigotry themselves.

Since we have been married, Adrian and I have lived in Utah, South Carolina, Florida, Washington (state), Nevada, and Massachusetts.

We have interacted with and worked (often closely) with gay, lesbian, straight, black, white, hispanic, european, asian, jewish, republican, democrat, libertarian, socialist, atheist, muslim, mormon, and every single thing in between. We have even discussed politics with supporters of Trump, Clinton, Cruz, and Sanders.

In my opinion- bigotry has zero boundaries. In fact, bigotry is stabbing you in the back. It tells you to hate (or even be intolerant of) someone because they follow the status quo or because they are too extreme; but then will just turn around and be friends with very people you are spitting at. It goes around and around and just tells anyone who will listen to foster anger, disgust, and intolerance for someone, anyone. It tells you how much more important your cause is…it tells you that your vote will make history or that you are just protecting your family. It tells you that if you don’t play along, that you will be hurting someone close to you. Bigotry is the voice that is telling you that compromise is not possible or favorable in any way, and that if the other side won’t stop, then you must force them with laws, executive orders, revolutions, or simply just forced shame. I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but, bigotry wants to make you its puppet.

I have heard a person in a homosexual relationship describe how polygamy makes his stomach churn, and someone who has mostly female family members affirm that all women should be tested before they can vote.

Like I said, no bounds.

So what do I suggest?

A first good step: listen. Talk to someone, ask them questions with the idea in mind that you really just want to know what it’s like before you make an opinion. Get to know someone’s experiences. Try to have a little faith that compromise can and will work. Validate their fears and then describe your fears and experiences, too. Find common ground.

You could also: do what we did and live in other places, get an idea of how policies, cultures, and experiences shape a person’s or a group of people’s ethics. Assume the good in people, even when they don’t assume the good in you.

Lastly: the golden rule. In a tense situation, be the first one to calm down and show them the same respect that you think you deserve. Whenever someone has done this with me, I always let me guard down and have a better and enlightened conversation in the end.

I know that a more peaceful society is possible. Why?

Because…

I have watched Trump supporters befriend Mexicans. I have experienced atheists try to truly, and kindly, understand my deep love for my religion. I have become extremely close friends with people who have polar opposite opinions that I do.

If you are sitting there, reading this, and thinking about how someone else you know should be doing these things- you’re probably the one who needs to do it. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Look inward and fix yourself, first. Then look outward and make a point of bettering the conversation.

 

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Nothing In Life Comes Free

This is a topic of conversation among all groups of people, regardless of political or religious tendencies. Eventually, we all realize that nothing comes without a price. Even the rugged panhandlers that hold up handmade, cardboard and black markered signs, who saunter past my car while I hastily search my console for something to give away, are giving up something to be there. You could say it’s their dignity, but that would imply that dignity was important to them at some point; and if it was, it was probably lost well before they were living by the littered creek on a busy East Arlington street corner.

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Somehow, the purpose of hard work gets thwarted by personal desires and comparisons. Which on the one hand is a great motivator to do something more, but on the other threatens our inner sense of self and confidence.

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Anger & Fear

aI have been thinking a great deal about the role that fear plays in our lives. How often do we fear? Daily, weekly, once in a while? I think for many of us, it’s a common underlying player in our everyday decision-making, especially now.

I have said and done things as a parent that I thought I would never do, simply because I was subconsciously afraid that my child will resent me later and decide to sever his relationship with me. I think fear must run deep in our minds to compel us toward something that we may have sworn never to do.

One example of this in my personal life is my first child. I was so bent on never using the Cry-It-Out method of sleep training. I planned on being that dedicated, loving mother that indulged her child’s desire for motherly comfort. I actually thought I would enjoy this. I was horribly wrong. Once my son started to transition from newborn to infant, sleep-deprivation reared its ugly head and I delved into mommy anxiety and postpartum depression. I was desperate for some answers and realized that my best option and quickest path to better sleep and happiness (leading to better mothering) was to let him cry himself to sleep. Looking back, it was a relatively mild process, but it was soooooo hard at the time. I don’t regret it. I am grateful I made that decision. However, it was out of fear that at first I wasn’t going to try letting him cry, and then it was out of fear that I decided to let him cry.

When something close to our hearts is threatened, we become afraid and protective. Part of protecting that can be manifested in anger. To me, this is exactly the state of America. Everyone’s just afraid. Myself included, though maybe not for the same reasons that others are.

One thing that I know about emotions in other people, is that  one of the best ways to move past the most extreme ones is to validate them. Even if we don’t agree with them, we need to validate and acknowledge their feelings and then work from there. To me, it’s the only way.