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I awoke with no recollection of how I had gotten home the night before.
I was fully clothed, makeup still on but smeared about my face, and I had my keys strewn near the end of my bed.
I urgently grabbed my phone to see if I could piece the night back together. It looked like I had called someone 27 times. Great. Not crazy at all. There were a bunch of recent indecipherable texts that I had sent, which I immediately deleted. I didn’t need any more debilitating guilt.
The truth was that I was so grief-stricken from recent events in my personal life that I was resorting to getting blackout drunk. Almost daily. A lot of people I met did not know this. I’m sure they just assumed I was plain crazy.
The years 2014-2018 flew by with impetuosity. Friends came and went. I tried to spend less time on sites like Facebook, which was an added issue to my mental health.
I never watched the news or cared. And since I wasn’t getting into social media, I wasn’t getting any of my friends’ opinions on the current political climate in America.
Then, one day I just woke up out of an extended blackout. It’s like four years of my life went by, but yesterday was the same as the period when it started. But it wasn’t.
I noticed most people I had met had different viewpoints when it came to anything political, but because of my excessive drinking and rarity of using social media, this wasn’t so obvious to me.
Was it possible that everything that I knew about being human in America had changed?
I don’t agree with censorship, and this is something people have been advocating for. I enjoy reading different viewpoints, as it helps put a different perspective on things.
What is interesting is that I don’t see many views that are not left-leaning anymore. Is this because of the media silencing these views or that these people silence themselves for fear of ridicule?
I have seen a lot of ridicule. There are no civil debates, especially on online forums. I think Facebook has gotten worse, in my opinion. It’s easy to take something out of context and shame people, especially if you don’t face them in person. Not all right-wingers are racist, just like not all leftists are communists. Yet, this name-calling continues.
Exiting out of these applications makes me want to start blacking out again.
What’s worse than waking up as a hot mess and smelling like whiskey? Waking up from a complete political blackout.
I asked myself how I could move forward—be more awake and aware than ever.
Here are some solutions that I came up with:
>> Talk to friends and family members one-on-one.
Commenting on internet forums is hard, especially when you can only really give a few lines of historical evidence and context. Also, to avoid the name-calling (which is clearly volatile and doesn’t help with growth), it’s better to start with those who know you and where you are coming from. I have also found that one-on-one conversations are more civil and engaging.
>> Be tolerant of different views.
It’s astonishing that people speak of “tolerance” and “equality,” yet they immediately shame others who defy their beliefs. Tolerance is about allowing the flow of conversation, even if you do not agree. I know some beliefs are hard to stomach, but how can we make logical conclusions if we don’t let people tell their own stories?
>> Know that one person doesn’t speak for all.
This should be basic knowledge, but for some reason, I have seen a lot of generalizations. A person of a specific race doesn’t speak for the entire race. A person of a specific gender doesn’t speak for the entire gender. A person of a specific political party doesn’t speak for the entire party. A person of a specific religion doesn’t speak for the entire religion. And a person who voted for a specific political candidate doesn’t speak for all of that candidate’s supporters.
>> Listen and ask more questions.
It is good that people are speaking up about their beliefs and gaining the courage to express themselves. A lot of learning, however, is through listening. Listen to other people’s perspectives. Why do they follow that religion or no religion? Why did they vote for that candidate? Why did they choose not to vote? You might be surprised to hear the answer, and I bet it’s not what you have been told to believe otherwise.
Here is a homework assignment for all of you: call someone that you don’t agree with and listen to them. Don’t interject or give your opinion. Just listen. With tolerance comes education.
“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” ~ John F. Kennedy