I’m really struggling with something. Maybe you are too so I’m going to be brave for both of us and bring up the topic. The world feels very us vs. them right now. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. I don’t want to keep seeing the world this way. I don’t want the world to be this way. Everywhere I look I see the world asking us to choose a side. We don’t have to explain ourselves. All we have to do is pick a new frame for our Facebook profile picture and we’ve communicated our stance so the world is happy. How can we remove the wedges that are driving us apart?
Stand, Kneel, or Sit?
The #TakeAKnee and #IStand movement that dominated the news this past weekend made me uncomfortable and a little angry. I think there is a lot of misinformation about what kneeling during the National Anthem is really about. It started as a way to bring attention to the racial oppression of minorities in our country. Over time the narrative about social justice and equality got twisted into anti-American, anti-Military rhetoric. It’s not.
Black lives matter. There is rampant, systemic racism in our country. Some people are more free than others in our “land of the free.” It’s the truth. It doesn’t mean America isn’t great. It means America has a lot of work to do.
You know what is also true? Our military members and police officers are brave. They work hard. They love our country. They risk their lives. They aren’t perfect. They are human. I can think of them when I look at the American flag without forgetting about everyone else.
I can mourn with the wives of military members who nobly sacrificed their lives for our country and grieve with the mothers of murdered, innocent, black men at the same time.
I can celebrate America’s strengths and address its weaknesses in the same breath. I’m not kneeling. I’m not standing. Maybe I’ll sit. I’m not letting myself be forced into making a choice, taking a side, and driving more wedges between us. I don’t want to leave the conversation, I want to move it forward.
Wedges Should Come with Warning Labels
I’m tired of wedges being offered to us without warning labels. These wedges look harmless and come in the everyday form of hashtags and Facebook profile picture frames. Choosing a side, without dialogue, without understanding, without thought is widening the divide in our country even more. These wedges are splitting families, testing friendships, and even causing us to withdraw from ourselves. We don’t have to agree but we also don’t have to be so pitted against each other at every turn.
When I see someone use a certain hashtag or picture frame I have a reaction. It’s quick and it’s involuntary and it goes something like this: I thought they were on my side. Or like this: Maybe they aren’t who I thought they were. Or worse yet: Do I want to keep this person in my life? It’s reactionary, it’s not fair, but it’s the truth. I feel myself attributing sweeping stereotypes to people, and even if it’s just for a second in my mind, it’s not okay. That’s what I see these wedges doing to me, to us. They are driving us to make assumptions about each other and we are using those assumptions as a reason to move further and further apart.
Talking Without Wedges
I think it’s important to stand up for what we believe in. It’s important to take a stand when you see an injustice or feel passionately about something. However, it takes intentional effort to take a stand for what we believe in without driving wedges between ourselves and others. This conversation between Marie Forleo and Brene Brown really spoke to me. It’s about how we should treat each other, how dangerous dehumanization is, and gives guidance on how to have some tough conversations.
What are some wedges you see people using or that you see yourself using? What are some tools we can use to make sure we are still talking?