I’ve seen a few different posts on Facebook in the last few weeks, where people were mocking and making fun of what someone else, or another group of people didn’t know. Or were mocking the feelings of what someone else was feeling.
If you remove the specifics, as I have above, it’s just people being kinda mean, and judgmental, and self-righteous to each other. It’s Bully Behavior.
I understand the temptation to be self-righteous. It is one of my challenges, actually. It’s super easy for me to slip into feelings of superiority when I *know* I’m right and the person or people who are wrong have been rude and nasty and horrible to other people. There’s a smugness that just feels so good in the moment. Y’know, when you can shove that rightness right into their face, and rub it in a little? I was a little sister, and my older sister was right a lot of the time, so when she was wrong and I was right, I let it rip!
But our country is so full of so much hatred these days. It’s hard to go more than a few minutes without hearing of, or witnessing some kind of disrespect, and I worry we will never be able to heal this rift.
So I begin to think of ways to encourage understanding. How to help all of us care and listen to each other, while still staying centered in our own truth and understanding.
How can we move past self-righteousness and indignation, into understanding?
I’ll start by asking “Who here has never felt the sting of humiliation, or the regret that comes with learning you made a poor choice or believed something you shouldn’t have?”
I know I have. And I remember how it felt.
When I have realized something too late, or learned something that everyone else seemed to know, and then was mocked for it, I shrunk inside. And I distanced myself from those mocking people. I shut down a little. There were times when I felt bitterness toward those people, but that was probably born from the self-criticism I was feeling for having not known something I should have known, and deep down, agreeing with those mocking people.
But when my confusion-turning-to-clarity was met with compassion and understanding and respectful offering of explanations, I opened up. I asked more questions. I was able to breathe deeply and forgive myself for my past lack of foresight. I warmed to the people who had answers I sought, and felt accepted. I didn’t feel the cold-marble-heart of needing to be perfect.
So here’s my next question, in this heightened and politically charged country…when you come across someone with feelings you don’t understand or don’t agree with, or when you learn someone is finding out something that you have known, and that has seemed obvious to you for a long time, will you respond to them with mockery and self-righteousness or will you hold compassion and respect as primary, and tap into your deep understanding of what it’s like to feel exactly how they might be feeling? Can you do this, even if you don’t agree with them? Can you walk that line of holding what’s true for yourself, and yet model the respect you’d like to see in the world?
Because I honestly don’t know how to move through the next phase of our country’s growth with this kind of disrespect and self-righteousness leading the way.