People aren’t jerks.
Everyone is just supporting what they believe in. We’re all well-intentioned, in our own mind. But, of course, defending something we love with self-righteous anger can feel to the other side like…aggression.
We can be jerks when we defend our point of view: whether we’re Bernie fans or vegan or Trump fans or steak-lovers, it doesn’t matter.
The solution is two-fold. Invest your hard-earned dollars, and your attention, in media that supports facts and truth, not one view or another (even your point of view). I know (I hope) you’ve heard it all before, but without a common set of facts for us all to agree upon, we can’t have healthy differences.
Secondly, listen. Don’t just talk. Listen. Dialogue. View others as fundamentally good. Try to always be empathetic. Question your own points of view. It’s okay to have clear opinions: ie, climate change is a thing. But those opinions need to be based on facts. And if facts change, our views must change.
The sexy thing here is that, if we do one and two, society changes. It becomes wholesome, and supports meaningful community. It becomes joyful, and harmonious, and more equal and aware—for all of us.
The sexy thing here is that we can do it. We can actually create a kinder world—and we must. To sit back is just as bad as to cause harm. We must participate in this life, and if we participate, we must find a way to do so with love, empathy—and courage and power in that love and empathy.
It’s easy to say, but words have power, too. So consider for yourself what others cherish, not just what you cherish. Find a way to stand up for the greater good, and to do so with gentleness and bravery, both.
This is what we practice in Elephant Academy, our online school that’s graduated thousands, now. And when we learn these skills—how to mindfully communicate—the magic that results enables us to empower our own life’s path. We can do what we love, and make a living doing so. We have only to take the first step.