Regardless of your political affiliation, religious beliefs, or stance on social issues, the discord in our world makes it incredibly hard to hear ourselves think or to know how to respond.
I see my role within the simple living niche as helping you cut through the clanging noise so you can find your voice and use it for good; yours and others. I also feel led to help you use your voice effectively, which in my experience means, mindfully and intentionally.
The more I walk this simple living path, the more I understand it requires self-awareness; knowing who we are, identifying our core values, understanding what we believe and why we believe it, all of which requires examination of what we’ve always believed about ourselves, others, our culture, and the world.
In the past (and until recent years), I would shush my inner voice anytime it tried to guide me to examine my core values and beliefs. The hold of other’s beliefs and opinions was much more influential in my life.
That only lasted for so long (as you’d expect, because cowering in the shadows isn’t sustainable.)
I eventually realized basing our beliefs on hearsay, a political party, a single bible verse, a sermon, or anything other else without careful scrutiny is not wise.
It’s not mindful.
It’s not intentional.
Part of the examination process requires taking a closer look at other viewpoints.
Now, this native Texan is feisty. Grit has always been a core value. So, anytime someone says something that differs from my own beliefs, I’ve been quick to spout off harsh criticism.
But, over the last several years as I’ve witnessed people spew hate and vitriol all over the internet, I realized not considering other people’s reasons behind their convictions and beliefs is foolish. Not listening to their stories is selfish. And that name calling and canceling people is downright childish.
I became increasingly aware I was still acting like a child, and that it was time to trade in that childish behavior for maturity.
It hasn’t been easy. But, as I continue to practice being slow to speak and quick to listen, I’ve found it very helpful to think about human nature.
The vitriol and divisiveness is slightly more palatable, or at least more relatable, when we take time to stand back and consider this behavior, in us and others, stems from fear.
No one wants the foundation of their long held beliefs ripped out from under them.
Who enjoys the feeling of losing control?
And, I can’t think of anyone who likes feeling threatened.
When those things happen we get defensive, like a momma bear protecting her young, or a frightened dog who bites. The problem with reacting is we come across as hateful, uneducated, and immature.
But when we respond, we’re treating others the way we want to be treated.
This more mature, intentional behavior leads us to understanding, with that understanding comes compassion, and out of compassion we gain wisdom. In my own experience, wisdom allows us to loosen our grip on the comfort of a black and white world and make room for the dissonance of a world where both/and exists.
When we allow for the vulnerability of both/and, it’s no longer a contradiction when someone professes faith and holds a seemingly opposing viewpoint. We’re finally free to stop judging, calling into question, and canceling people. We no longer feel the need to spend our energy fighting, convincing, or changing people’s minds.
One night I was working outside when I heard someone call my name. I looked around to see my sweet neighbor saying hello. As she and her husband started walking over, I invited them to join me under the gazebo.
The conversation pretty quickly turned to politics.
Calvin interrupted the conversation to apologize. He explained that he and Debbie love politics and enjoy talking about it. I let them know I didn’t mind at all as long as we can agree to disagree if needed.
It has taken a lot of years to get to a place where I can even say ‘let’s agree to disagree.’ But, the more confident I am in my identity, worth, and belovedness, the less threatened I feel when others disagree with me.
That confidence has come from stepping out of other people’s shadows and not just heeding, but believing my inner voice. After following it for a while now, I can tell you it always leads to simplicity and ease.
All this to say, during these complicated times, you can indeed clear the mental and emotional clutter, and go in peace.