I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and remembered why I avoid it during “political high times.” I got so frustrated. I shut my computer off and declared, “That’s it. I’m leaving Facebook till December!” I realize this is not productive or necessary since I am simply allowing what I saw affect me. But it caused my heart to hurt and I truly wanted it to stop.
What did I see? Hate – and lots of it. I saw dozens of posts that were referring to the election and only one was referring to a candidate that the individual supported. All the other posts were mocking or throwing anger towards the candidates that they didn’t support.
While I understand this isn’t new in politics, or human behavior for that matter, I feel as though social media is a powerful tool we are abusing. Before these tools, we had to wait till we saw a neighbor or a coworker to share our frustrations with presidential candidates and it stayed within our social circle. Now we can create hurtful images and it touches thousands. Basically, we have become uncontrolled bullies on the playground while sitting at home in our pajamas.
I have gotten caught up in it myself. While I don’t typically post about politics, I have had my share of laughs at a comedian mocking a candidate or silently cheered when I see someone post something I agree with, even when it was hateful.
I have thought a lot about why this bothers me so much and it boils down to three things. First, I believe each and every candidate is a person and whether we agree with them or not, they share common humanity and deserve our compassion for that reason alone. We can state that we disagree with them in a loving way without personally attacking them as people. We want to teach our children kindness and effective ways to handle disagreement; this is a perfect time to lead by example. When we give into hateful thoughts, we not only cause suffering in others by our words, but also ourselves. This isn’t necessary and we do not need to cause so much pain. Even if the candidates are doing this to each other, we don’t have to participate.
The second reason is that we, as a society, have no idea how powerful we are. We have a tendency to push hard against what we don’t want, not realizing we are powerful creators. The things we focus on, whether we like them or not, will come. Hate has powerful energy behind it and using it as a tool to “stop” something isn’t effective. We need to steer our focus towards what we do believe in if we want to see a positive change in this world. We feel better when we look at what we like, instead of what we don’t and this is amplified if we share in a positive way.
The third reason is very personal. I haven’t yet determined who I am voting for and am doing thorough research on the candidates. I would absolutely love to hear my friends, families and those I follow tell me who they believe is the right candidate and why. The truth is, I have no idea. For many of them I know who they don’t want and why, but that doesn’t tell me who will make the changes they want to see. Others mocking a candidate won’t sway my opinion, but I may be convinced if I hear a reasonable reason to support one. If anything seeing this hate causes me to feel compassion to each candidate because, no matter how thick their skin is, words hurt and can cause suffering.
We can do this differently. Please take this as an invitation. Use this blog post, or my Facebook page to share who you support and why. If you aren’t sure, do some research and share views that you agree with for each candidate. I will not allow any negative comments directed towards others or the candidates.
Lets see if we can shift the political tendencies and approach this election and love and compassion instead of hate and anger.