People are hard to hate close up- move in.

No poetic words to start this post off.  I am struggling and my brain is going a million miles a minute. This post is very likely not going to be a popular opinion or sit well with many, but I am sharing it anyway.  Because well, sometimes words are a fire inside of me just begging to be released. 

The amount of hate I have seen this week on good old social media (you know where the best of humanity hangs out) has me wanting to crawl into a hole.

The weird thing is, the people I have noticed spewing the hate, don’t necessarily know it. I think they view it as a form of activism. They think they are supporting love and inclusivity.  And I get it, I am a passionate person, I get really fired up about a lot of things but I have had many times where I have needed to take a step back and check my heart and my intention.

Like many of you, I am fired up about this election for a variety of reasons. I have sat across from DACA students who constantly lived in fear and just wanted a normal life.  I have mentored LGBTQ students that have no safe place to be themselves but my office.  I want equality and peace for THEM. I want love to reign. I am as hippy dippy and “woo woo” as it gets.  And I am damn proud of it too.  I consider myself an ally to the very people whose rights are on the line in this election. And yet, I don’t name call or shame on their behalf. 

I think that sometimes people just want to fight for the sake of what is right so they can fight. So they can release whatever negative energy is stewing inside of them, Lord knows I am guilty. But if we are truly concerned about our cause, we must fight with grace. We MUST fight with humility.  We must be fierce YET kind.  When we spew shame and hate- we are not fighting for our cause, we are hurting it.  We are giving the other side the reason to fight back, be defensive and make their case and instead of stopping to think, to reflect, or CONVERSE. Isn’t the point to come together?  Or do we just want to greaten the divide so we can release more anger?

I know there is a lot on the line in this election, I know you feel convicted by whatever your stance is.  I hear you, I feel you. But let’s paint a picture of reality here directly from a recent conversation with one of my students this week:

“I am a gay woman and I support Biden/Harris… for obvious reasons. But I come from a very conservative christian family, whom I love and respect and would do anything for.  They support Trump which makes things tricky. So while I love to see the support from others to fight for my rights…at the same time the memes on social media calling my mother a racist?  Calling my father a Misogynist and a homophobe?  Those hurt. They are still my family and I still think they are good people, even though our votes were different.  It is more complicated than most people think. “

While I have the privilege of being a white woman and not having some of these policies impact me directly, some people do not have the privilege of simply icing people out of their lives because of a vote. Some people are forced to lean in, have hard conversations and get to the heart of both sides. That hard space right there? That is where real change actually happens.

Sometimes I think we get so high on our horse that we forget what heroes before us have done.  They didn’t shame, they didn’t name call, they didn’t riot. 

What did Martin Luther King do to progress the civil rights movement? He stood as a pillar of hope and model of grace.

Rosa Parks was deemed a “fighter” by simply not getting up from her seat.

JESUS offered kindness, a meal and conversation to everybody. EVERYBODY. 

Let us remember what real activism looks like.  Don’t tell me kindness doesn’t matter, it is what singlehandedly can change a heart.  And I am not talking about the fluffy kindness of tiptoeing around other people’s feelings and not being challenging in any way. I am talking about the fierce kindness that challenges you to sit across from somebody who thinks differently and have a respectful conversation about your differentiating beliefs. To hear their story. To listen. To discuss.

As my girl Brene Brown says- “People are hard to hate close up, move in.”

We have every right to believe what we believe, but I challenge you to think twice about how you are challenging others. Check your intention. When you say something or share something–is it to illicit shame? Are you sharing from a place of anger? I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in keeping the peace. I am interested in MAKING peace. I am interested in making real change.  And that starts with moving in and seeking to understand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *