It’s been a while. For a while I lost my voice. I couldn’t find the right words to give voice to how I was feeling about a number of things going on in the world. And so I had discreet conversations, I quietly liked and re-tweeted and made the odd comment when I felt like my words could not be misinterpreted.
It’s been a while, and it isn’t that I haven’t written, it’s that I didn’t feel like the voice I was writing with was strong enough, was on point enough, was ready to take on topics that while I felt passionate about them, felt too controversial to bring to the forefront under my brand. And so I wrote blog posts, and allowed them to gather dust in the draft folder on my desktop. I wrote tweets and Facebook posts and responses that I quickly deleted, deciding not to step into the fray.
I did all this, while thinking, am I fraud? Earlier this year I wrote about the importance of picking a hill, picking a battle, taking a stand. And in this time where stands are being taken, where voices are ringing out, I allowed only a muffled conversation to breach from my lips. I only spoke my truth with people I knew would respect it. And isn’t that the problem?
If we spend all of our time only speaking to the people who think like us, then we don’t allow the opportunity to understand other viewpoints, to widen our awareness, to broaden our minds. And a mind once broadened, cannot be contracted. So, instead of hiding in my corner, being upset that people think differently than me, it is time to start a conversation with those same people. It is time for us to come together and understand that more than one view point can be right, given a varying set of circumstances. It is time to stand up and take a stand on a hill, not to shout louder, but to listen harder, to listen for the hurt and the pain and the cracks in the armor.
I have written and deleted blogs on feminism, power, the election in the US, and they have fallen silent because they were missing my authentic voice. Because my authentic voice is one that doesn’t shy away from the opinions of those who disagree. My authentic voice is not one who judges the masses on the actions of a few. But it was hard. It’s been hard for a number of people who don’t understand the reasoning behind things that have happened in 2016. The Brexit vote, the Trump victory, and the increasing division and hate crimes that have happened in those countries and spilled into ours.
Here is the thing, this isn’t about one man, this isn’t about one country, this is about people. This is about human dignity, and this is about the fact that when one group is being lifted up, ultimately someone feels stepped on.
I’ve recently started to have a conversation. It goes something like this:
Others: “Christy, tell us really what you think about the US election.”
Me: “My honest opinion?”
Me: “Ok, I’m disappointed in the result. I would be lying if I didn’t say that. I was never a Trump supporter, but I can appreciate that there are people who were and are. I can appreciate that there is a desire for anti-establishment, I get it, I don’t always agree with it, but I respect that desire. I respect that there is a desire for traditional values, and I get that there is a group who could never get past the Clinton dynasty.
“This isn’t about one man anymore. This is about that small group of people who feel empowered, bold in their actions, to stand up and spew vitriol and hate, to be racist, misogynist and every other ist that quite frankly isn’t good. This is about those people who have come out from behind their computer screens, it’s not like they weren’t always there, but they’ve become three dimensional, they feel powerful now. To say that these people didn’t become emboldened by Trump’s campaign is to become an ostrich, with your head in the sand. I’m not suggesting for one minute that every person who voted for him is part of this group. On the contrary, it’s not the majority of his voters, but they are there, they are loud, they are hurtful, and they feel power.
“If there is one good thing that has come of all of this, they have outed themselves. They are no longer usernames and twitter handles, they are real, flesh and bone human beings who have outed themselves and we can rise up above that. We can not only rise above it, but where possible we can start a conversation with them to get to the heart of the matter, and to show that we can be more and better.
“The other good thing that I think can come out of this is the activation of youth in politics. A lot of them remained silent on election day, and during Brexit, they have realized that silence is their enemy, and they must take action to create a world they want to live in.
“Finally, I will say that I understand that not everyone is going to agree with me. I get it, that is the beauty of a free country. And I want to invite those who don’t agree with me to respectfully engage with me, or with another person you don’t agree with, in order for us to have a conversation, to understand the viewpoints of others. To understand that we don’t have to change our values and belief systems to hear others out, because at the core of all of us is a desire for good.”
Research has shown that reading sows empathy. That when you read books you are able to engage with stories that are different from your own, when you read books you are able to live in worlds that might be far different from yours. I encourage you to read the stories of those people around you who are hurting for different reasons, who are fighting for different rights, who are living different values than your own. Learn to empathize, not only with the characters between pages, but the real life ones who breath your same air. Like her or not, HRC’s campaign got something right, we are stronger together, and if you don’t want to take her word for it, maybe think about Aesop’s fable “The Four Oxen and the Lion”:
A lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to warn another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling [sic] among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in the separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.
United we stand, divided we fall.