Getting comfortable with uncomfortable

Dave Ferry

This past Thanksgiving is the first Thanksgiving I have been home with family in over 14 years. I tried a number of times in the past, but it never worked out. I have been looking forward to it ever since starting work here in June and I had a really nice time.

A lot has changed over the years. There were no social media in 2004, at least not as it exists today. Online relationships were taboo. Now, it seems face-to-face relationships are becoming more and more disconnected. We are free to pick and choose who we allow into our orbit. The issues that divide people have always been there. But social media put us all into a pressure cooker and turned it up to eleven, forcing us to confront, and often avoid, our differences.

With all of these different voices and perspectives flying around, it should come as no surprise to anyone when things get weird. Particularly these last few years as the divisive rhetoric surrounding Presidential elections, racial tensions, violence, LGBTQ awareness, and myriad hot-button issues that seem to rile some people up. Add on top of that, the lines between what you can and can’t say and do have gotten really blurry. No matter what your views are, many seem emboldened by the idea that their opinion might be heard.

It’s our right. Freedom of speech and all that.

It can be difficult to know if it’s taken too far. When there’s something going on that you may disagree with, sometimes remaining silent isn’t an option when emotion takes over. They say don’t drive angry. Maybe we should say don’t tweet angry.

I don’t believe we should stop, but we could listen more to each other and start learning to work together again.

You don’t believe climate change is real. Maybe you post a meme declaring your skepticism.

Your “woke” friend takes it upon themselves to school you on your ignorance.

You’re a young person struggling with thoughts about the future.

You’re the conservative uncle who seems to enjoy giving lectures on personal responsibility.

Let them be.

If you all we do is fight, round and round it goes. No one changes their mind.

It doesn’t really matter who’s right or wrong. We are human beings, each of us with a whole universe stretching out from our hearts and our minds.

So what’s the solution? No one is going to suddenly stop believing what they believe.

No one is going to say, “You know what? You have just convinced me that my life experience is invalid and I am going to see things your way now.”

Freedom of speech and the freedom to stay silent are one of our most sacred rights. The freedom to listen and empathize with others makes us human. None of us are free from consequences.

I close with a quote from the band Kansas:

“And if I claim to be a wise man, well it surely means that I don’t know.”