Grab a drink and get cozy for a second. At the end of this I hope we can toast our coffee or beer and agree or even agree to disagree.
The past few years, social media and I have had a love hate relationship. I absolutely love connecting with others and seeing the changes in their lives every year. I love laughing and crying with people from all over the world! I love being able to share encouragement with people that I care about including family, friends, and strangers. Just like anything controversial, I have also begun to hate certain aspects of this powerful tool. I made a decision a few years ago to post things that would lift people up. I made a decision to post only things that would help people see the good in the world. I decided to use my small personal platform to help others grow for the better if they desire to do so. I use it to share my story of hope. Deleting it is not the answer for me for several reasons. I will share a few and although I have made changes to make Facebook less accessible for myself, I will keep using it as a tool to share life, the happy, sad, bitter and sweet moments of life.
First, let me explain that I want to be surrounded by people with differing opinions and beliefs than what I have. This is the main reason I will not be deleting. I believe that many people are jumping on the bandwagon of deleting because they don’t like the political temperature or because of the negative posts from all over the world (wherever we put our focus we will find that which we focus on! If you focus on negative, you will see it, if you focus on the good, it is there too). Although I do understand your frustration I see good in this space as well. While I would agree to an extent that Facebook leaders seem to be very liberal in their views, I must say that this very thing has stretched me to pick up my boundary line and place it around others to welcome them into my more conservative circle as well so that we can kindly share our differences and see how we can help make the world a better place together.
Politically I am conservative but there is no secret that I am not dedicated to a political party. I am a human with thoughts, convictions and beliefs that do not all fit in a red or blue box.
I think as I have listened to my friends and people from all over who have different beliefs than myself, I have found that they too align somewhere in the middle of the red and blue. Those blending of colors create a space of rich vibrant purple where if allowed, can paint an even more beautiful picture of our democracy.
It is hard sometimes to have difficult conversations because it is difficult not to judge others. It is also very difficult not to feel judged by others as well. Often times, once the defenses are down and we come face to face with one person standing on the sidelines of the mob holding their sign, I see what the sign is really screaming is “listen, please just hear me. Hear the pain, hear the anger, hear the past, present and hope for a brighter future! Please hear me, them, us! Someone! Anyone!”
I think we stand on our own podiums and expect others to listen to us shout our opinions and views and rarely step down to sit with and listen to them! Where did they come from? Why are they shaped that way? What makes them want to act like that?
As I watched a video recently, I listened as Ruby Bridges spoke about her six year old self trying to go to school during desegregation! She said for a while she didn’t understand why the little white boys and girls wouldn’t play with her. One day she asked and a boy said, “my mom said I can’t play with you because you are a ni**er.” She said “I finally understood and I wasn’t mad at him. If my mom had told me not to play with that Asian child, white child, Hispanic child or black child I wouldn’t have played with them because my mom told me not to. Sure it hurt but I finally understood and a weight lifted off of me!” I would say that today. Sure, sometimes it hurts to hear the words of others. Sometimes we want to run away but I would encourage you to press in! Show grace and press into that discomfort and seek to see the good in that human.
We, as a country, have become good at running away from our problems or trying to make excuses while shaming others. Instead, we could embrace one another and ask how we can encourage others today to have faith in humanity! I wonder how incredible it would be for a person of faith to sit with people, who feel hopeless where they are, and maybe point towards our God of Love in a loving way. Maybe we seek to understand. Then we truly can be understood by humanity or parts of it anyway!
I will not be deleting but I will be challenging people to love others genuinely! Before anyone uses the word utopia to react to my thoughts here, let me just say that I am not proposing that this is an easy mindless version of a peaceful existence. It involves diligent hard work every day reminding me that I live in a world full of different people, cultures and world views. To me it is more meaningful to seek understanding than to be egocentric in my views.
I want to understand your cultures! I want to embrace our differences! I want to share a meal with you and talk about growing up in this world with you! Raise my family with you! I want to eat with the wealthy and the poor! I want to sing with you, laugh with you, cry with you and travel around this earth with you! All of you! Cheers.
Love, Stephanie Ellison