10 months ago I wrote about the sacred importance of being kind to each other all the time. What do I think about that now?
Wow—what a difference 10 months in the Trump-era can make.
10 months ago I launched my "kindness project". I told us we all needed to listen, to be nice, and to embrace our inner Mr. Rogers.
Boy, was that naive. While I still believe in the basic theoretical underpinnings of my movement--a few things have come into focus for me since then.
The first is that there is no "right" way to react to someone you disagree with. A friend responded immediately to this blog and told me that it was wrong and downright controlling in an uncomfortable way for me to say that we should all be "kind" all the time. I scratched my head at that. Didn't make sense to me. Isn't being nice the best? Being nice doesn't mean not saying difficult things—it's just the correct approach if you want someone to listen.
I get it now. As our wise grandmothers have always said—"It takes all kinds." There is no "one" approach. As the good book says, "there is a time for every purpose under heaven." Sometimes we need diplomacy—and sometimes we need anger. It turns out getting things done requires multiple skill sets. People need to be pushed, people need to be made uncomfortable, usually, if they're going to change. All anger all the time alienates. All kindness all the time is easily ignored.
I really don't know what the right way is to talk to the "other side" right now. I still care very deeply about not alienating the other side, not retreating into a echo chamber. BUT—that's my second thing. I'm frustrated. I'm getting angry. I want answers. I want to know how you can support such a hateful, disgusting human being. I want you to tell me. But the thing is—I want to have my cake and eat it to. I don't want my conservative family and friends to go away—I still want you. And I don't want to ALWAYS make you uncomfortable; I don't want to ALWAYS talk politics...But, I'm a little needy right now—you're going to have to bear with me. Right now I don't understand how you can live with yourself. Right now I'm kinda stuck on this thing. I want to go back to inoffensive jokes and talking about movies and TV—but not right now.
Right now I'm Angry Jesus. Flipping over tables, making a whip of cords, shouting down the Pharisees. He wasn't very nice to them. He imprudently called them all a bunch of snakes (now now Jesus, you shouldn't generalize). He said the converts they were so fervent to make were hopelessly damned because of who the Pharisees were. That's where my head space is at. If Jesus was allowed to go there, maybe, just maybe, I can too. Maybe Jesus didn't make any friends that day, but maybe it still needed to be said.
I'm goin' Old-Testament-minor-prophet on some asses. I'm gettin' my yell on. It doesn't mean I don't love you—it's actually the opposite.