Friday, December 16, 2016

Unity Starts With Me

As a liberal, the world feels like it is unraveling:
  • On-going conflicts in the middle east
  • Syrian civil war and resultant refugee concerns in Europe
  • European unity in crisis as a result of Brexit
  • Impeachment of the South Korean president
  • Black lives matter and the many other components of the cultural wars in the United States
I acutely feel the polarization of Americans on issues like reproductive rights, gun rights and transgender rights. And this feeling extends far beyond me versus those who hold opposing viewpoints to include other liberals. At least once a week I see a comment like this, which causes me to feel guilt because I'm not doing enough:
On my Facebook wall yesterday, I made reference to feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of these crises. In the ensuing discussion, I was reminded that we all can't do everything for everybody.
Which got me to thinking about unity, particularly here in America.
I propose that each of us find one or two issues that light our fires, and put everything we can towards those issues. Let people know what those issues are, and what you are doing to be the change you wish to see in the world.
Here's the unifying part.

While we are each doing our good work, try to celebrate the good work of others, rather than denigrating those who aren't fighting side-by-side. Recognize the others as soldiers in the same "Make the World a Better Place" army, who are simply engaged in other battles that are just as important as your battles.

For me, this might look like:
  1. Thanking people for their advocacy - in whatever form it takes.
  2. Refraining from sharing/repeating content that derides people for not caring about the same issues I care about.
  3. Positioning the asks I make of people as an option, instead of an ultimatum. Rather than saying, "Not making a donation makes you no different than the Germans who did nothing as the Holocaust was starting," I'll try this: "There are so many issues demanding our attention. If ending the refugee crisis in Europe is one of the issues that lights your fire, please consider making a donation."
  4. When I need to say no, say it in a way that honors the passions of the other people. For example, instead of ignoring an ask made by a friend or acquaintance, I'll try saying something like, "I honor your commitment to ending the refugee crisis in Europe. Thank you for all the work you are doing. For my part, I'm dedicating myself to addressing the policing crisis here in America. So, I'm not going to give today."
  5. When I feel overwhelmed, consciously remind myself of the value of the work I am doing, rather than feeling guilty about whatever it is you are NOT doing.
I believe that honoring my individual efforts and those of others will help me feel more unified with my sisters and brothers fighting the good, liberal fight. And by working together, we can make a greater difference than we would working alone or in our issues silos.

Will you join me in making a pledge to be a little kinder in the way you position your advocacy work?  

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