Friday, October 19, 2012

What I Promote

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

I've been reminded of this sentence time and time again lately.  I'm going to go ahead and assume that you know there is a presidential election coming up since you are reading this and therefore have access to a computer and information.  Every day, when I get on Facebook  it seems like there is yet another one of my Facebook friends who I have to add to my list that is excluded from my news feed.  So many posts basically calling me all sorts of terrible things, degrading my character and questioning my love of country, my integrity, and my humanity.  Of course, these people are not targeting these attacks directly at me, but they are posting  those things about people who hold the same political views I hold and those who would vote for the people I intend to vote for.  (An absolutely wonderful post expanding on that topic can be found at this link.  I highly suggest you read it, but not before you read the rest of this post.)

I know that I am guilty of this too, at least to some extent.  I hear or read something that boils my blood and my first impulse is to rant about how terrible it is and how I can't believe anyone would do/say/think/promote such a thing.  However, I keep coming back to this "instead of bashing what I hate" idea and what that should look like.

I hate bigotry, racism, sexism, violence, war, and discrimination. I love when people, words, and images promote tolerance, understanding, community, equality, non-violence, peace, and love. Sometimes promoting what we love does mean identifying what it is we hate, but it should stop there. When we become preoccupied by how much we hate an idea or a politician or certain belief that differs from our own, that begins to dictate how we treat others. When our treatment of others is dictated by what we hate, we lose.

And we all hate losing.

So here is what I'm am not going to do:  I am not going to stop sharing what I think or begin to keep my opinions to myself.  I know people who have chosen to do that and it may be what is best for some people.  But I learn so much from engaging with others over ideas and topics, that I don't think giving it up entirely is constructive for me.

Here is what I am going to do instead: Before I click "like" or "share" or "post," I am going to ask myself if what I am about to show to others is promoting what I love.  If it isn't, I'm going to step away from the mouse.  Before I respond to another person's comments -- online or in person -- I am going to think about what it is I care about and respond from the perspective of advocating for something I think is extremely important. I am going to do everything in my power to promote what I love and leave behind the discussions about what I hate.

I know that I am not going to change another person's ideas by pointing out where I think they are wrong or why I hate what they have said or posted.  And, in case you are thinking that this is some kind of positivity exercise I'm undertaking, that's not it at all.  I am still a realist through and through and I know it is also highly unlikely that I will change their views by promoting what I love.  This is about realizing that I only have so much time and, rather than wasting it by giving attention to the things I hate, I'm going to make the most of it by focusing my fight against those things on promoting the things I want to see take their place.

Tolerance, understanding, community, equality, non-violence, peace, and love -- That is what promoting what I love should look like.

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