Think Twice Before You Speak
“It is wiser to find out than suppose.” — Mark Twain
I’ve been feeling more anxious lately. Life feels gift-wrapped in news and the news cycle. I want to be informed. I want to keep up with the myriad events but I’m approaching a cliff with it all; fires in the midst of climate change denial, anarchy amidst the battle between white nationalism and true human equality, the election, hurricanes with more denial, and this thing called the coronavirus.
I can handle the news. I can handle my responsibility to educate myself, my children, and live a positive life not only for myself but for the betterment of my fellow humans and mother Earth. I cannot handle the immediate and obtuse rushes to judgment. I cannot handle the blaming we’re doing on the most fundamental levels of human relationships. Social media feeds are full of ultimatums. People are shedding life long friendships due to differences in belief. The fabric of the nation is tearing at the seams and what we all need to do is take a big collective breath.
“Know your role and shut your mouth.”- The Rock
While the gift of humankind is this giant skull with a matching brain, ability to form words, communicate, and be conscious of ourselves with all of this equipment, we still talk too much. In times of turmoil, we talk even more. We need to express ourselves. With the advent of social media, everyone has a place to talk. This is one of those times where the volume of opinion is creating too much noise. It’s difficult to focus on real conversations, issues, and things that matter most.
At a time when it would serve us better to step back, survey, and listen, we rush to speak. We are overwhelmed by the need to be understood instead of being overwhelmed by the need to understand. We need to understand ourselves, our feelings, and our inclinations first. Then it would make sense to look outwardly into the world in an attempt to make sense of it all.
Perhaps the two aren’t as separate as we think. We frequently feel the need to “talk things out.” Part of the way we organize and sort through our thoughts is by speaking. In an age of ultimate accessibility, it would serve us well to step back and do this away from the internet and the influence of others. We need to take a breath, take a beat, and take a break from the inputs.
We need space. To think. To breath. To live. We need space to allow for thoughts to grow and shrink, shine, and fade. Due to the speed and pace of life with the internet, there is an innate desire to keep up with the entire world. I don’t think we can. Or should. There are times when it is okay to let a day’s news pass you by. Especially, when you’re not quite sure how you feel, or if you feel at all. We don’t need to have an opinion on everything all of the time. It is not a sustainable way to remain human for long.
We need our friends. Period.
More than ever we need our friends. I’m seeing the struggle between people who have been friends for most of their lives. People are fracturing lifelong relationships with people due to political beliefs, or even ideology. I’m convinced it is because we are not rushing to understand. We are rushing to judge. I’m not advocating for the tolerance of racism, white nationalism, or the acquiescence to this neo-authoritarianism. What I am advocating for is the simple act of reaching out.
We are too quick to distance ourselves from the people and perspectives that we personally find repulsive. Even if it comes from people we’ve loved for the majority of our lives. This only perpetuates the problem. We create distance. We become more divisive. And it is far less likely that people will change. Change is the only way this heals. We have to pull them closer.
“Shut your role and know your mouth.” — Mick Foley
This was a year that, when we reflect on it collectively, we’ll wish we had handled differently. The hindsight of 2020 will be so glaring we’ll regret we weren’t the bigger person, more inclusive, and less visceral. Again, this is not an abdication on my behalf or exoneration of the behavior of a large swath of lost souls. But, when we look back, I’m afraid we’ll recognize the opportunity was lost amidst hipshot opinion, verbal warfare, and close-mindedness.
We cannot continue to silo ourselves off into our wooly blankets of denial. We cannot assume the ascendance of one president will right all of the perceived wrongs of another. We cannot assume that holding power and sway subverts the narrative of the “silent majority.” Engage. Discourse. Listen. Learn. Think before you speak. Think twice before you speak. Think one more time. Listen to some more folks and see where you can affect change. It's our responsibility to help, not fall prey to the tactics of those who we feel just don’t get it.