“What people often mean by getting rid of conflict
is getting rid of diversity,
and it is of the utmost importance
that these should not be considered the same.”
– M. P. Follett
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those
who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal
to reason and is in conflict with morality.”
– Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi
I get my news and information primarily through social media, and I’m about to tell you why.
But first, a little background:
I grew up in the Suburb of Silicon Valley (before it was Silicon Valley), Milpitas, California. Our city was incorporated in 1954 by a plucky group of locals known as the Minutemen in revolt against annexation by nearby San Jose (‘not on our watch, buddy!’). This act was so worthy of note that the city adopted the patriotic figure as its seal and mascot. It was also such a source of pride to our close-knit community that those self-same Champions of Civic Liberty were again mobilized to battle that great scourge of the region– The Milpitas Monster. In this humble, noble town, I went to school with kids from every walk of life: class, race, ethnicity, religion, and subculture. I grew up believing this was Dr. King’s Dream. I believed we were all equal, all the same inside, no matter how different our appearances. I still believe that.
When I was 21, I moved to Washington State and experienced two memorable things: I experienced snow for the first time. And I experienced how the rest of the country lived– everyone was white. EVERYONE. How do people live like this?
It was weird.
But I adapted. I also adapted to becoming Poor White Trash. I was a welfare mom, with two kids by two different daddies, living in a trailer park. I learned to love my life in that strange place.
I loved my life because of my friends. We watched each other’s kids, we shared the burdens and joys of life. This was the 80’s, during Reagan’s Dream, when Public Enemy #1 was the Welfare Queen. What a crock! Black, white, brown, or blue, Welfare was a humiliating experience. I knew the truth, despite the racist lies. When it came to the news, I couldn’t trust what I heard on the radio, and TV is always selling something. I knew that even then.
Hence the use of social media as my news source. Facebook may fiddle with the status updates and “shares” I see, and sources may be suspect, but Facebook shares some of what my Facebook Friends like, react to, and comment on. I see what matters to people who matter to me. Like former classmates from my hometown. Or former classmates from my alma mater (yes, I ‘m a Phoenix!) And family, no matter how distant. And ‘real-life’ and ‘virtual’ friends and acquaintances who often surprise me with all we have in common. People from all walks of life. They all reflect to me the things in life that matter. Like feeling safe, appreciated, respected, free from aggression and free to live as we choose. In that, we really are all the same.
I can’t wait for this election cycle to be done. There is a lot of pain and fear happening out there. Watching a presidential candidate insult and deride people because of their race, ethnicity, disability, gender, religion… and blaming them all for the “disaster” that is America, in the candidate’s estimation. I feel all at once raw and over-cooked. The presidential race is stirring the pot. They know we don’t think so well when we’re feeling unsafe, insecure, under assault.
Repeat after me:
Not My Circus.
Not My Monkeys.
Repeat as necessary.
There are conversations, long overdue, that are beginning to happen. Conversations about justice, and race, and gender, and planetary responsibility, to name just a few… and they’re starting through social media. They are, naturally, spilling over into daily life. Real conversations about real issues. And not from the candidates.
We’re opening our mouths and even our minds. We’re connecting.
Vote your conscience. All down the ticket.
Then, let go of national politics as soon as you’ve cast your ballot.
But don’t stop the conversations. Even with the people with whom you disagree. Maybe especially the people with whom you disagree. After all, they represent an unacknowledged part of your Self. Otherwise, you’d never react to them.
Peace, Love, & Pomegranates,