“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” ~ Rick Warren
It feels like America has been in a dysfunctional dynamic in recent months, and it has just updated its relationship status to: “Broken up.”
Since the election results were declared, friends, colleagues, neighbors and even strangers have exchanged harsh words with one another. Some had even broken up long before the electoral results, due to expressing differing ideas, opinions and beliefs about which candidate they do or do not support.
The thing that has become quite evident is that people care a hell of a lot about the United States of America. They care about the present situation, and they care about the future generations who are going to inherit what we leave behind.
In the midst of all this passion and care, it seems many have forgotten compassion, and caring for their fellow citizens. Many people appear to have become so caught up in defending their beliefs, they are attacking the ones who challenge those beliefs in some way.
For anyone active on social media this week, it’s impossible not to notice the amount of turmoil and despair going around. There’s no doubt that unkind words have been thrashed around, and feelings have been hurt.
I’ve seen numerous comments about people unfriending, unfollowing and blocking, and trying to delete people from their lives.
Where does this leave America? In a fragmented and fragile state—that’s where.
So, for all the love and care that everyone has for their country, they are destroying it when they separate from their fellow man.
America needs its people to come together, and show each other—as well as the world—that it can overcome any trauma.
Of course, there will be people who will feel that too much water has passed under the bridge to try to swim against the tide and attempt to rebuild. However, it is not too late, and there is never a “too much,” when it comes to people we care about.
Cruel and cutting words may have been unleashed in heated moments, and although these cannot be unsaid or untyped, there are plenty of words that can be said to “raise the white flag” and admit times were turbulent, so that forgiveness can take their place.
When we forgive, we give ourselves and the other person a sense of inner peace. It can take a great deal of courage to be the first to stand up and own up to irrational or out of character behavior, but it is worth the temporary, unpleasant (and sometimes fearful) emotions when friendships are remade.
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou
Many movements have swept America during the presidential campaign, and one of the most well known ones is “Make America Kind Again.” To achieve that, we also need to “Make America Friends Again.”
I am going to take the first step in this movement, and unblock and send a friend request to two people whose words irritated and deeply offended me over the last few weeks. I am also going to post the hashtag #makeamericafriendsagain to my social media accounts to express how I would like to remain connected to all of those whose opinions, beliefs and voting preferences conflict with my own.
I am also going to share the Rumi poem below alongside the hashtag #makeamericafriendsagain to show that regardless who I might have felt was “right” or “wrong,” I am open and willing to admit to being irrational at times, being judgmental at times, having expectations that are too high at times, and voicing my opinions while emotionally charged at times—as well as being stubborn and slow in reconnecting and delivering forgiveness.
I am ready and willing to work on these things, so that I can stretch, grow and change—and remain connected to those who think, feel and express themselves differently.
I will wait on the virtual field that Rumi describes, where we can all peacefully live and let live:
“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.” ~ Rumi #makeamericafriendsagain
If everyone who has experienced personal conflict with someone recently would unblock, or reach out to just one person, I believe that thousands upon thousands of friendships could be remade, and America could then work it’s way towards unity and becoming friends again.
When reaching out with forgiveness, we can remember the Buddhist way: to radiate forgiveness without placing any conditions, attachments or expectations on the outcome.
Author: Alex Myles
Image: Instagram @escott7386
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina