the world through rainbow eyes

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Compromise and Compassion

Never before have politics, both social and electoral, been as engaging, enraging, and divisive as they have been this year. Not in my lifetime.

It seems clear that social media and the easy click reading of the internet is to blame for it, too.

Parts of that are fantastic. Small grass movements can become massive and up-end the status quo in a way that is both terrifying and exhilarating. It’s truly engaging to know that little voices can potentially have as much impact as big voices.

It’s a tightrope walk, though. While there is much hopeful about knowing that you are not alone in feeling like the things that you particularly care about are particularly cared about by others, it is also isolating to know that those you care about have views that are harmful to you.

When people say “unfriend me if you think/will do xyz” it’s a stark contrast line in the sand of “support me and what I say that allows no compromises, compassion, or empathy.

Which is not to say that some views or actions are not so divisive themselves as to invite a lack of compromise.

I’m not going to repeat the many things that you shouldn’t compromise yourself on. All over social media and the internet those things can be found.

Much harder to find are calls to compromise, and intense compassion. A movement is not made by a line in the sand that divides sister from sister, brother from brother, child from parent, friend from friend. Those things are more likely to be in line with self-identity.

I won’t go into self-identity and the many strong things social media and the internet have done for that, either. You can find them. Everywhere.

What a movement is made up of are thoughtful and compassionate discussions. Find the common ground and work from there. If we are to bridge the gaps that are wedging between so many of us in our lives, these discussions must happen.

The divisive memes and rants are an easy device to turn to when someone uses one that is rejecting the things you hold true and dear. Snark is an easy answer when you feel pain or fear.

Dividing yourself when someone takes an action or stand that divides you from them is easy. Much harder is to hear their thoughts and ask them why. Show your pain. Attempt to understand why someone has a different point of view, and allow yourself to consider that their point of view has merit.

Don’t abandon principles, but respect people and their experiences even if they are completely foreign to you. You don’t have to agree with them, but you don’t have to reject them, and the slow growth of healthy compromise can arise from nothing else.

Compromise is our bridge forward, and we must find it. We must make bridges between us all or the gaps will engulf us all instead.

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On Facebook and the Loss of the Privacy of Our Minds

Oh Facebook, you’re such a piece of junk. Your ability to reach out and substantially change the national, or even global conversation is nothing short of amazing. Your reach is so great. At the same time, never has a tool been more capable of isolating and driving apart friends and family.

Do you remember in the past how you didn’t really know that your Uncle Joe had really horrible feelings about people who utilize EBT because you pretty much only saw him at Christmas or Thanksgiving? Remember being able to complain about your job with your friends without your job hearing about it? All that is done with, online.

When discussing which superpowers someone wants pretty much nobody with the ability to think of consequences beyond the immediate chooses telepathy. We don’t generally want to know everything that our friends and family think. We’d much rather like them, frankly, and we’re pretty aware that some of that is dependent on not knowing what they’re thinking  just impulsively around the clock.

But hey, now you can. Facebook is the next step of being plugged directly into the impulsive thoughts of our friends and relatives, and them being plugged into yours. Which can be sort of great when you really want a soapbox. Or can be kind of horrible when you really want a soapbox.

It’s sort of like that Thanksgiving where your sister came out to the whole family. Things were a damn mess for a long time after that. Your mom and dad threw her out of the house, remember? Your little brother said a whole bunch of really hateful shit. But, the bright side was they came around.

It took a couple years, but everybody reconciled. Your parents found out that their daughter being gay around their son didn’t “turn him gay.” Your little brother eventually went on to head up his high school’s chapter of PFLAG.

Well okay, not everybody reconciled. Your aunt still says awful things. Things are still pretty tense with your older brother and the rest of the family. You have hope that he’ll come around, though. When your family went to the marriage equality rally to support your sister everybody quietly noticed his absence.

So, maybe Facebook is like that. It’s sort of tense there right now. A lot of people are finding out either that the people they love harbored a little more bigotry and a bit less compassion than was hoped for, or are finding out that the people they thought of as “other, “wrong,” or “weird” are actually the people who sit across from them at the table, or a cubicle down. Or whatever.

Maybe we can reconcile that, though. It certainly isn’t going to happen if we all block each other, or if we never say anything.

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It’s A Beautiful Day

I needed something good today. I’ve written and read a lot of sad and bad stuff lately. It weighs me down.

Today happens to be March 20th. It is the Spring Equinox. The sun is starting to wake the earth up, and seeds that were planted deep in the earth are finding their way up to the air.

85 years ago, today, a boy was born. His parents named him Fred McFeely Rogers. The boy grew, went into ministry, and then, he went into wider ministry. He taught us all, and every single person who ever met him or saw him was touched by Grace.

Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Rogers.

P.S. please read that link. It is worth every minute of your time.
Edited to Add: here’s an online whitehouse.gov petition to make March 20th a national holiday.