“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”
– Taylor Swift
I recently contributed a small piece to the book #Sisterhood Connection: A Year of Empowerment. It is ironic that my copy of the book arrived this past week. Why do I say ironic? The phrase “Sisterhood Connection” is certainly in line with my Women Making Strides theme. However, there is currently a great deal of discord between women in the United States and in other parts of the world.
We are not discussing political issues here. What we are doing is looking at our own behaviors and thinking about our connections with other women.
I hesitate to list the comments between women that I’ve seen and heard recently. This blog is meant to be encouraging and gentle and the words I’ve heard lately have been anything but gentle. There has been much inflammatory language including name calling, insults, and swearing. There has been demonizing of entire groups of people. We forget these are our friends, neighbors, mothers, and daughters.
I used to think maybe someday Women Making Strides could form groups of women walking and talking about topics like gratitude and facing challenges. I once belonged to such a group. It was a small group, and it included gay women, straight women, liberals, and conservatives. We got along just fine. I also thought perhaps I could change the Women Making Strides Facebook page to be more interactive, so we could have discussions online.
Given the recent turmoil, I wonder if such ideas were foolish. Facebook, for example, is no longer necessarily a pleasant place. Many of us are in reactive mode. We are stressed: we don’t understand how others can feel so differently than we do. We worry about what might happen, and we react to the latest news immediately. We speak out, perhaps too hastily.
The political unrest and the discord between women disturbs me so much I can’t sleep many nights. It isn’t healthy to be so upset and I try to stay off of social media in the evening. We need to take good care of ourselves during what is a traumatic time for many of us. Regretfully, self-care may include staying away from people who are consistently confrontational. We need some relief.
Some women, including me, need to express our opinions, especially when we see things we think are wrong. I have the right to speak out, as do you. However, we need to do this without inflammatory language, and we need to pick the right venue for expressing ourselves. Some women exercise their right to assemble peacefully. We can also speak out by calling or emailing government officials. Or we can join groups or make donations to support the causes we feel most strongly about. We can keep positive and pray. These are more empowering and productive than getting caught up in dramas, which I admit I’ve done.
There are signs of hope. I belong to a running club that is largely women, and most of the time we stay off the subject of politics. We talk instead about our families, how our running is going, fitness, etc. However, I have had discussions about politics while running one-on-one with women in the group whose political views differ from mine. I feel we listened to each other with mutual respect. We didn’t change each other’s opinions, but we understood each other better.
I also belong to a women’s meetup group where we socialize and get together to discuss self-improvement books. We met first as strangers, and now we meet as friends. We have common interests that draw us together despite our differences, and we often laugh together.
All of us come from different backgrounds. Can we respect our differences and try to understand each other? Can we stay connected with our “sisters”?
How do you take care of yourself during stressful times? How do you deal with people whose opinions differ from yours?