Where to begin...
"Covid Cases are Climbing (the sequel)" seems like a really bad thriller movie! But this is real life and a perfect time to escalate conflict of all kinds. Here are some examples of things I have heard, and even found myself thinking, in the last week or so. Let me know if these are familiar to you:
"Why do all the vaccinated people have to pay for the irresponsibility of the non-vaxers?"
"No one is going to force me to put something in my body that I don't want to!"
"Our economy is going to crash if we have to go back down into lockdown!"
"I am not going outside again until this is over! When is it going to be over again?"
"I was depressed having to do this the first time....now what?'
If you have heard, thought, or said any of these things, you are not alone. The common ground that vaccinated and unvaccinated people have in t
his experience is WE are all tired, and WE are all scared, no matter how we show it individually. And here is the rub. How WE show it has a dramatic effect on how WE heal. Here are three simple things you can do to be part of the healing process.
Everyone, whether we agree with them or not benefits from being shown dignity. In fact, the very act of showing grace to someone you don't agree with, dramatically increases the changes of not escalating tensions, but also finding common ground. When people share something controversial or polarizing - like their views on vaccines, racial issues, etc., they tend to start off feeling like they need to be ready to defend themselves. When the listening party recognizes the difference of opinion but doesn't make it personal, it diffuses tension and builds trust. Trust is the key to continued open dialogue. You can't build trust on an accusation or character assassination. However, if you enter into every conversation with the goal of truly seek understanding, you will find yourself building trust and providing dignity not only to other but to yourself.
Being willing to engage in tough conversations is a good first step. I remember many Christmas holidays where someone would say stay away from talking religion and politics this year. I remember always thinking those are two really interesting topics! Why can't we just discuss them like adults? One more than one occasion, I would watch as "The Adults" in the room engaged each other on these topics, and then observed as they spiraled down into petty arguments and hurt feelings. I say this to make two points. First, not all "Adults" are good communicators. Second, good communication is hard!
When done properly, good communication, can change everything for the better. Most importantly, it can foster, nurture and salvage damaged relationships. Some people might think the best thing to do to engage in good communication is to agree with someone. Not so my friends! By nature, people like to avoid conflict where possible. However, this is not the best way to understanding, which is what we really need right now.
The key to good communication is to be honest. Human beings are like natural BS detectors. We do it almost unconsciously. But we definitely do it and what's more, we draw conclusions that can last a lifetime. If someone is being honest, whether we agree with them or not, we generally feel it. Now, I'm not saying just open your mouth and say everything inside your head. That would be weird! But do speak your truth as diplomatically as possible. If you have a controversial viewpoint, it can often help to explain how you arrived at your perspective. After all, you are seeking understanding here, so be willing to share yourself in the process.
TAKE YOUR MOMMA's ADVICE
If you find yourself in a situation where a controversial topic comes up and you don't know how to handle it or your in a conversation and you are stuck as to how to continue, take your momma's advice. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" AND "Eat your soup". As to the second one, we are all in this "soup" together so we might as well figure it out. First point, It is totally okay to say I'm not ready to discuss this and opt out. However, if you stop there, you will be missing out on developing one of life's greatest gifts. So I encourage you to reflect on what made you uncomfortable, what you truly think about the topics involved and then re-engage when it feels safe to do so. Good communication is like relationship building - it doesn't happen overnight, it can be messy, it takes time, but when it works its the best. Because the greatest gift you can give another person is to truly see and accept them. So, eat your soup and jump into healthy communication. Wishing you the best of understanding and good health!