It’s been quite a week for everyone and specifically my household. Yes, Saturday was the two year anniversary of Trey’s death. Yes, my extended family situation with my dad is continually evolving and providing for many different emotions. Yes, the election was an absolute cornucopia of emotions for me. It’s all of that and yet so much more. I am so burdened by the emotions of so many these days. Whether it be the anger and vitriol of the election, the stories of others who have lost loved ones, or any other story of those who are burdened these days, I am just so sad.
I’ve said it before and I will say it now, everyone is facing something. No one is going through life unscathed and we all need to keep that in mind. We’ve all got stories. Those stories have left a series of hurts to each of us. These hurts go places and affect our emotions which in turn fuel many of our actions. I do not believe that there are many maniacal sociopaths in our world who are just looking to reach into our world and hurt us. I’m also not saying that we don’t run into one every now and again either. What I am saying is that we too often see things as how they are, at that moment, through our past hurt clouded lens, without giving others one benefit of the doubt. We have become conditioned to assume the worst of others intentions and do not begin to assume that WE may not be at our emotional best in any given moment. We assume that we are, for all intents and purposes, good and in our right mind while others (and their intentions) are bad and out of their minds. The more you get to know someone’s story the greater chance you have to see them through God’s eyes. I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t be hurt by others, that is inevitable. I am encouraging you to perhaps see that it wasn’t intentional or at least to understand the behavior behind the action. Too often, we focus on their “bad” while assuming our own “good.”
It occurred to me this afternoon that this presidential campaign brought out a lot of that and more amongst so many friends of mine. I keep my political cards pretty close to the vest, at least on social media for sure. However, I am hurt like anyone else when I am told that to believe what I believe makes me x,y,z (moron, idiot, insane, out of touch, hateful, etc.). Oh, I might get a, “Oh, not you Jay. Just everyone else on the planet who thinks like you.” That doesn’t help and really isn’t possible as far as arguments go.
So here is what hit me. In regards to political candidates and differing political stances we once again assume that we are “good” and that the opposite is “bad.” Obviously you could insert “right/wrong, smart/dumb, altruistic/evil” or whatever else. However, here’s where it goes off tilt. One side observes that there method of solving a political problem is best. They view the other side as being morally reprehensible…not just ineffective. Their candidate is going to be most effective, the other an immoral option. It is so hurtful and damaging to all who are in support of that candidate.
For example, few would espouse that the plight of the inner city and impoverished is not in need of attention and improvement. Those on the left are passionate about government programs that assist, support, and intend to “level the playing field.” Those on the right are passionate about creating more business opportunities that would employ more people and equip them that way. They believe that more money in the hands of more people will result in more money being donated to social service agencies (rather than gov’t programs). Rather than seeing it as a differing of policy beliefs, the left simply assumes the “bad” and deems the right as racist, cold hearted, and elitist…having no love for the poor.
Before you think that I am waving the right wing flag please know that I believe this goes both ways. The previous administration believed that we should have a more gentile approach to foreign relations. They sought to “repair” relations with countries around the world. Rather than seeing it as a different strategy, the right said that they were “ashamed of America” and called them unpatriotic.
Why then, do we jump so fast to assume the bad about others while resting high on the good assumption of ourselves? My best bet is that it goes back to the hurts. We have so many, too many. Beyond that, most of them have never been comforted. Our emotional margin is next to nil. Beyond that, we are at a dearth of having our emotional needs met. Our hurts have left us needing things like respect, security, approval, acceptance. When others disagree with us and/or hurt us, it hurts twice. The immediate hurt added to hurts from the past.
All in all, I’m just sad. Too many people saying too many hurtful things. Too many people being hurt by people not intending to hurt them who are very often not even capable of knowing how they are hurting them. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t hurt. I just wish we were more equipped to see some of the reasons for the behavior in the first place.
I guess most of all, I wish we were better at healing hurts. If we were able to tell our story and have people respond appropriately we wouldn’t be so quick to assume the bad.
While I have received quite a bit of positive feedback there have been a few people who have reached out to me in various ways to let me know that I have missed the mark. All of them were speaking in regards to the election and not individual hurts or anything else that I mentioned in the post. To summarize, they felt that I was too myopic went it came to explaining political differences and the hurts of those who did not want Donald Trump to win. They felt that I was only looking at policy differences and being too narrow minded. They pointed out that I didn’t address the anger and fear of those folks. Only I did…
You see, the title of the post is Good and Bad. The premise is that when looking at you, your side of a story, your politics, your view of just about anything you believe all the best about your side and very often assume the worst of the others. In regards to politics I did use policy as an example. However, in regards to the personalities and character of candidates, the same is true.
Many people look at Donald Trump and think that he is a terrible human being. They use terms like racist, homophobe, misogynist, xenophobe etc. When they look at Hillary Clinton they see her as a career activist for the people, a champion for the lower class, and inspiration for women. Conversely,many who wanted Trump to win view Hillary as a corrupt, career politician who is more of the same old same old that Washington has to offer. Trump, in their eyes, is a man from outside the beltway who can lead the country to a new level of prosperity.
Because one side looks predominantly at the bad, there is shock and fear. How can so many people vote for a racist? How can our country survive the leadership of a bigot? They don’t point out that he has successfully run a multi-million dollar business and clearly knows how to lead. Had Clinton won the other side would be saying, “How could so many people vote for someone who let soldiers in Benghazi die? How can our country survive her arrogant disrespect for the rules?” or something like that. They would not be pointing out her experience, respect and commitment to bridging the gap between the left and right..
I am not saying that you have to feel any certain way. I am not saying that one side is right and the other is wrong. I AM saying that way too often we only look at the bad in others and don’t examine the flaws and faults in our own game.
So maybe you can’t give Trump a chance, fine. Maybe you’ll never respect Clinton, that’s your choice. Perhaps you can give those who voted for each of them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you can give the person who flipped you off in traffic an ounce of grace. Potentially, when your boss isn’t so kind to you today you can fathom that there might be something else going on in their world.
Assuming the bad can only take you to bad places.