By: Vanessa Burnett . – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Today was rough. I just tried to summarize the reasons why to a friend and realized when I got off the phone that I missed a whole bunch of them.
After the election in 2016, my bigger picture overarching reaction was that we were going to see a pretty wide damage path. That it would increase.
There was a lot of fear at first. Very very deep fear. And trauma. The majority of women I was close to then felt that at some level. Not all. But most.
We’re just over two and a half years in. The damage path as it spreads is gaining attention.
I feel like we’re getting a better sense for it.
The damage is in our personal lives too. For very many of us. Much of what has been happening this week in my own life is certainly tied to this bigger picture. And out of all the crap that I’ve been navigating this week, or that my people have been navigating… at least some aspect of whatever that is is tied to this bigger damage path. To the fractures.
Fractures between us. Fractures that led to this election.
It feels like things are intensifying.
It’s easy to think that it’s probably just things in my own life that are intensifying. But I don’t really think that’s the case. The news tsunami persists daily. The erosion of norms and institutions is real. The erosion of regulations and ethics and following of laws persists. A department I was very proud to work for after 9/11 is taking actions that are killing people. Actions that will kill people soon. Actions that will damage people, lives, and this country for generation.
None of this is making us more secure. All of it is making us more fractured.
I’ve gotten some shit lately on my posts. Some have basically told me I’m not active enough. Or I’m not active in the way they think I should be.
Or that my calls for civility are upholding all of this bullshit that we’re trying to work on.
People are going to have their own opinions.
I wrote this whole post because something keeps coming up.
💥💥💥 EMPATHY. 💥💥💥
And its friend: compassion. 🧡
I ask for respect and civility on my posts because I don’t find that we move anything forward when people are insulting each other, or making fun of each other. Or making assumptions. Listening doesn’t happen when you’ve already been insulted. Hard to have a productive conversation if people are already on defense.
It’s not always possible. But sometimes it is. Setting the intention is a good place to start. And maybe I should start asking for productive conversation instead. Maybe that slight clarification would help.
I had a post over the weekend that got pretty heavy engagement. Some people I love pretty deeply, albeit from afar, were involved. I’ve been thinking a lot about that post. Some involved were not happy that I asked for respect. For civil discussion.
I always ask for that. Because we are all souls.
Part of it this weekend is because a lot of people I loved were involved in that conversation. On both sides.
Part of why I made that post but didn’t add any of my own commentary and tried to leave it neutral is because sometimes I don’t know how to deal with people I love who support this administration.
Some of the people who do support the current party in office were easy to cut out. Some are just a big ball of rage and not difficult to avoid. But there are others who I love deeply and I’m having trouble navigating the relationship. Sometimes you have to love people from afar. But every situation doesn’t fit so easily into those options.
Yet I can’t have people in my life who support a president that will ship sick kids out of hospitals to foreign countries to die. People will continue to support this guy so they can advocate for abortion. But not advocate for kids dying in the hospital getting pulled off their support systems to be shipped to their deaths.
These are the same people who supported the president who admitted to assaulting women.
I will never understand.
But that doesn’t mean the sadness isn’t there. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love people from afar. From a safe distance. Or that I’m not at least conversational when we meet in person. Sometimes that’s the best option. Life is not all moments where we can call out everything at every corner.
But it isn’t just people from the other side. People on the same side fight too. People on the same side disrespect each other. People on the same side are *mean* to each other.
I mean…. really? If we want a better world, and we want people to be nice, or at least to be respectful and not insult each other, then it’s a good place to start in your own personal interactions.
I ask for respect on my posts because you never know what someone else’s path is.
You don’t know where they are in their own evolution.
You don’t know how they are fighting or what they are fighting. I get really pissed off at activist shaming, for example.
There is a lot of the really god-awful to fight. Persistent oppression and white supremacy need strong words and tough, real action. We have a growing oligarchy and an eroding democracy. The damage path spreads by the hour.
My point is that we all have to find our own way to fight. We all have to find our own resonance. Our own voice.
Some people are going to fight the fight in different ways.
Not everyone’s going to agree with my path.
🎙️ I’m sticking to empathy. I’ve got a lot of work to do with it. I made an enormous empathy mistake this week. I will learn from it.
🎙️ I’m also sticking to compassion.
🎙️ I will keep asking for respect and civility. In part to facilitate active listening and productive conversations.
But mostly because we are all human. Recognizing our humanity and that we are all souls is a good place to start.
🎙️ Contempt is as high in the US as it is in Israel and Palestine. There’s a lot of opportunity to disarm, diffuse, defuse, and deescalate.
Doesn’t always work. But sometimes it does. And sometimes we come away better for it.
🖤 If you made it this far, thank you. Thank you for listening. Sometimes you need to say stuff. I love this experience here but it is intense as hell.
We’re going to need each other to keep going. The damage path spreads.
Be well. Be strong. Be resilient.
Vanessa Burnett is a disruption coach and consultant at Counterfear.com, helping people and organizations navigate and create disruption. A career in disaster management, resilience-building, infrastructure, and technology innovation informs her current work. Vanessa is also the President of the Shift the Country PAC, working to foster tipping points across the US through connection, community, and resilience to create real world shift.
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