I find myself even more self-conscious today than I did five years ago. I hear fellow Asian-Americans express similar sentiments, especially as the coronavirus crisis escalates. My friends and I haven’t experienced outright racism, but we’re on the lookout for it, as we see so many others deal with it every day. Call it hypersensitivity if you wish. But if you are white, please consider how your race provides you the unearned privilege of never (or at least seldom) having to question whether someone else’s negativity toward you is due to your skin color.
This election year, I’m deciding how I will be and how I will do. I play with boundaries around media exposure, social media engagement, and conversations on politics. I want to do it better than I did last time. Soon after I started my Facebook page c.2008, I intended it to be a monument to my most positive tendencies. That intention gave way to wrath and fury for much of 2016, ending regrettably in a couple of severed relationships. At some point I reviewed my posts and found an alarming ratio of negative posts, mostly written during fits of impulsive rage. That was a wake-up call.
By January 2017 I had recovered at least somewhat. February 2017 brought a series of “Rules of Engagement” queries on this blog, which I am gratified to reread tonight. These three years I have trained hard to approach all political conversations with more curiosity, generosity, and commitment to connection. Some people and topics are still too sensitive to broach, but progress continues. My training continues alongside my Better Angels tribe members.
I successfully moderated my media consumption these two weeks around impeachment. I read Lamar Alexander’s statement 3 days ago and considered its purported rationale. Part of it made sense to me, and still I’m unsatisfied with the whole situation, which I shared on Facebook. My friends and I exchanged opinions and ideas civilly and respectfully, which I appreciate.
In the end, I believe engagement will be the solution. In 2016 only 50% of eligible voters cast a ballot. Of those, a little over half chose Hillary Clinton. But it wasn’t enough for ‘my side.’ This year we must get the apathetic and disengaged back to the polls. We have nine months to rectify voter access, to connect with those on the fence and invite them down on the side of inclusion, equity, integrity, and respect for humanity. If our opponents fling excrement, we cannot follow suit. We must not become the shit-flinging adversaries we say we abhor—no matter which side we’re on. We must speak from our highest core values, rather than to their lowest words and behaviors. We must connect deeply with every person’s need to feel seen, heard, understood, accepted, and loved. I have THE. HARDEST. time considering 45’s innate humanity. But if I start there, I can handle any conversation with anyone else, and I show any ‘opponent’ why I am a worthy rival and not just an idiot enemy. And I bring out the worthy rival ahead of the idiot enemy in them.
Well, at least this is the goal, the guiding light I intend to follow this year. Surely I will fall under shadows sometimes. But the more I manage to stay in the light, the less I will suffer and the less suffering I will inflict on others. I intend to call forth my best self, for my sake the sake of all those around me.
Beautiful post Cathy! Thank you for the reminder to listen deeply and with an open heart and mind. I’ve been in the question of what actions to take to bring more people to the polls. What actions do you intend to take?
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Thank you for reading and commenting!
GREAT question—what will *I* do to get folks to vote? 🤔
I’m not sure, as I imagine most people in my spheres of influence will already vote… perhaps I might influence readers of this blog? Or perhaps I can work this idea into Better Angels activities? The workshop formats themselves are pretty prescribed, but maybe during the downtime’s I can simply talk to attendees and we can encourage one another to invite friends to engage?
I could work phone banks or canvas, I suppose… but I’m not convinced that is the most productive use of my precious time and energy. I’m just a bit skeptical about the potential for connected relationship (which I believe is the foundation of persuasion) in those situations. … But I suppose if I could take that circumstance and make a connection, that would be huge.
What are you thinking of doing?
This resonates with me so deeply. I have also struggled with the expressions of frustration, fear, rage and bitterness I shared on FB before and especially after the election, when the President proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the fulfillment of my worst suspicions and impulses about him. It doesn’t feel any better as I watch him continue to get a pass from his side of the aisle for things that would have gotten his predecessor complete condemnation and immediate and swift action from the GOP. As I listen to the continuing drumbeat they broadcast of how dangerous the democrats and liberals are to our democracy I sense we are in deep deep trouble. It feels like a not very subtle form of indoctrination, a fanning of the flames of fascism. I wonder what they think they will gain from it? Such lust for power is more and more frightening every day.
I try now to just stay off FB, as I have the last couple of months. It’s just easier that way.
I’m sorry that you feel that self consciousness about your ethnicity and the attitudes some hold towards you. It must be extremely difficult to negotiate the world gracefully when you are dealing with a social order that is so entrenched and so easily overlooked and ignored by those who benefit the most from it. I try very hard to be cognizant of my white privilege and hope that I am a better person when I hold that thought as I interact with and try to understand all of my fellow humans. Happy New Year Catherine. Let’s hope for better things.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Ilona. These years have been so hard for so many, in so many different ways. 😣
I appreciate your empathy and I’m glad the post resonates. I hope we can all take a higher road and call forth our better angels hereafter.
Best wishes to you and yours! ❤️
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