I have spent the past week getting things rolling. I think, like many of you, I believed this would be over quickly and we would be back to whatever sort of new life-mixed with our old life-that remained. As the time goes on I can see that is not going to be the case. It isn’t surprising that we have now been turned on each other. That is politics, get us to fight each other about what it is, when we should be free to go out again, when it will end, and of course when it will really end, and we won’t have time to look at the politics of the whole thing.
No, I am not political, as pathetic as it might sound I just want us to learn to get along. I think the truth is that as long as we have people that hold our strings, we will always be puppets in some way, no matter what we think.
So, what to do? First, be more empathetic, that is my go to tool. I learned a long time ago that I personally am too quick to judge. I always adopted the attitude that if it affected me then I had to argue my side of it, not true, or not complete, because the other side feels as strongly about their position, and in some cases even stronger. I used to dismiss the other side of the coin, the other persons feelings, because I compared it to myself and judged them wrong. Yes, I did that, but we all eventually do see that other side if we allow ourselves to grow and feel, and empathize. Because if the other persons viewpoint is valid to them, then it is a real position. It matters. It doesn’t matter that you or I might not be able to see it, it only matters that that person can see and feel it and it is real to them.
How is that helpful to me? Clearly it makes me care about someone other than myself, and it is something I can do without endangering myself, my family, my friends, it is bending enough to see a different viewpoint, and being mature enough to accept it as a fact. And, that is important. Because there are things we do that we think means we are changing, bending, evolving, that can be dangerous: We can lose ourselves, in trying to pacify someone else, trying to bend to someone else’s will: That is not empathy. That can damage us, it can hurt people around us, and it can even change the course of our life in a negative way. Empathy is understanding. It is taking the time to validate someone else’s feeling, ideas, even lifestyle, even if you do not understand it completely or embrace it yourself. It is being mature enough to say other people and what they feel is as important as you and what you feel.
Does it mean you should change your life to accommodate them? No, it doesn’t. It does mean that you can begin to understand that there is a world of different out there.
No two people are the same under the surface, and the differences they embrace are valid for them even if they are not for you. I have people in my life that think differently about things than I do. I mean, people who are Republicans, or Democrats, or Atheists, or Jews, Or Buddhists or Gay or Straight, or Nurses, OR Aids patients, or Ministers, or on and on. I don’t worry about it. Sincerely, I don’t spend my time wondering what atheist friend thinks about my beliefs. Or whether because I have friends that are gay I’m gay too. I don’t because it is not part of our relationship. They find out quickly that I am exactly who I am and I find the same thing about them. In other words, there are no masks, no pretense that I care about all the things they do. That I am friends with them to look good, or they with me. It takes time to build that sort of relationship. It also takes strength of character, because you are not bending to their will, or trying to bend them to your will, you are just being you, and it starts with empathy. Realizing that others feelings are as valid as yours are.
So I watch all the stuff going on and then I continue my life. I care about the circle I have, I can’t do more than that. If I try I could lose my own way. And, I’m not an idiot, I can read between the lines. I can see things are taking longer, I saw that they would before this whole thing started. You can’t shut down the worlds economy and then just jump-start it back to life when you feel like it. It is going to take time, patience, understanding and yes, even empathy for how others feelings matter.
I have friends who depend on close contact for their livings and they are suffering, I mean that. I see days tick by, and I know it hurts them, but the fact is it is going to take as long as it is going to take. It would be best if all of us could get together and work out a plan of how to put our lives back on track, but we can’t. We can see that by watching the news. The two main political parties can’t even agree, so how are we supposed to agree?
We can practice empathy. Yes, it sounds like crap, but it isn’t, because empathy means understanding, not bending to accept someone else’s viewpoint. It means that if you can do that you will be less upset. Not let all of this break you down. Because people who like to influence others depend on that. They believe if they continue to stir the pot you will get sick of all that crap they are distributing and cave in. Empathy means you can understand it, but you don’t have to go past that. Just be you, draw back, don’t let it consume you.
Does that mean it will stop? Of course not, but tomorrow it will be more of the same, or a new angle being flung at you, something, and if you are smart enough to know that you don’t have to feed into it, that you are also entitled to empathy, feelings, your own position, that you are worthwhile it will be easier to continue to be you. Stick by your positions. Wait this out, because there will be a day when we are talking about how it was, not how it is… Amber…