“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?
Excellent post, excellently written, Sue. This really spoke to me on several levels. I used to be one of the more confrontational ones (I looked at it as opinionated but, really, it was confrontational) before the Facebook era. In the last 3-5 years as my own personal life has become much happier and more peaceful, I’ve found that I am more interested in listening, respecting, and accepting differing views than my own. I still haven’t changed my opinion about certain issues but I no longer feel compelled to get loud or inflammatory when discussing hot topics with friends or acquaintances with differing opinions. Possibly part of that comes with age and wisdom but it makes me wonder how much of it coincides with being a happy person.
I have recently seen and experienced situations that make me realize how many unhappy, tired and stressed people there are out there. Even without the changes happening in our country and the unrest in the world, a high percentage of people are stressed just trying to make it through their day to day activities. Add in what’s going on politically and so many are pushed to the brink of their unhappiness. People are too tired to listen, too stressed to be respectful. It reminds me a lot of where I used to be in my life and how far I’ve come to reduce the stress and busy-ness in my life. I now try to have compassion for those I see behaving as I once did. And I often hope that I had enough courtesy in my being (when I was at my most stressed, unhealthy, depressed state) to not come across as a complete jerk.
Sue, I’ve mentioned before that you have always set an example for me of acceptance (or I’ve mentioned something similar to this). I consider you a long time, very good friend yet we have had very different upbringings, led very different lives and have opposing views on some issues. Yet I have always felt completely and totally accepted by you. That is very difficult to achieve yet you have managed to accept me for exactly who I am. I’ve actually thought of you a lot recently when I’m in a situation with people who have a different view on things than I have and I hope to achieve the same amount of respect for others that you seem to.
One last note….about Facebook. I enjoyed (to some extent) social media for 6 or 7 years but have been happier than ever since deactivating my account. Coincidence?
Thanks for another great post!
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Sarah, it warms my heart to see you so happy. You have less drama in your life, and that is a good thing. You’re right, we did have very different upbringings, but I have always found YOU accepting of ME, too. Thank you for that. I treasure our friendship. On a different note, I admire you for cutting out Facebook. I don’t think I could cut it out entirely, but I do need to cut back. Thank you for your insightful comments.
With all of the drama on Facebook these days it isn’t a very friendly place to go. If I am brave enough to comment on someone’s political post, though I try to do it in a gently way, I am usually attacked by others, most of whom I don’t even know. When I do post it is generally with a purpose of trying to reassure others that things may not be as bad as they seem. What is upsetting to me is when others do not seem to want to even try to see another side of an issue. Everyone has their opinion and they are sticking with it a everyone else is a bad person (or made to feel like one) for having a differing opinion.
I do have friends of differing opinions. Even you and I, Sue, have differing opinions from time to time. And I am not afraid to talk to my friends/family about our differences. I know that my friends will still be my friends even though we have differing opinions on some issues. Even a friend on Facebook who is very outspokenly different from me, and has given me a real hard time on Facebook, I will still accept and continue to love for who she is. She recently posted a comment something to the effect that those who had recently unfriended her because of her posts weren’t her friends to begin with. I was the first to reply that, though we differ, I am still here. And “I love you!”.
“Sisters” can still be sisters when opinions differ. We need to just be open enough to listed to what we each have to say, and a heart big enough to continue to love them even though they differ from us. I have a desire to bridge the big divide that our nation is experiencing right now. I don’t know that I have the words or the ability to do so. But I keep trying to reach out to others who differ and to listen to their side too. Can we start a movement together and find a way together?
This was a very meaningful, and timely post Sue. Love you!!
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Cathy, yes, we do have different opinions on some issues. And you’re right, we will still always be friends. Sorry to hear about your friend’s comment. Maybe it hurt her when people unfriended her, and she’s a little bit defensive. I’m glad you’re still here for her–and for me. Love you too!
Such a timely and encouraging post – and one I needed to read right now. Thank you for posting and for your encouragement of the “sisterhood” we are all a part of.
I have been avoiding some people these days, hiding my head in the sand of life. Oddly enough, four times, recently, women have approached me (in church, in social setting, at a meeting) and tentatively queried about my opinion. Dancing around a bit, each time I discovered we were on or close to the same viewpoints. In an odd way, this has helped me to be more open to others whose views I know are different from mine. I am learning to listen better and trying to understand others.
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I know what you mean about “dancing around a bit.” Glad these women were basically in agreement with you. We all need to do what you’re doing, trying to listen and understand others.
Great post, Sue! In our current climate this is a much needed reminder. It’s to easy to let negativity drain our energy. Your words remind us that we have a choice in our reactions and responses
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Thank you, Rachell. I do feel negative sometimes, but I find if I’m getting stressed and headachy (like I did today), I’ll feel better if I go for a walk and drink water. You’re right, that’s a better choice than fretting.
Thanks for the considered post on the issue of our ever-more divided culture. I have decided not to post anything political on Facebook, because some of my friends and relatives have a different political orientation than I do. Sometimes I’d really like to share a post I’ve read that’s a bit snarky, but so far, I’ve been able to resist the urge. It’s not worth losing a friend to express an opinion. One of my cousins really irritated me with some of his comments to my FB friends, and I messaged him privately and asked him not to do that. He became indignant, but he did stop.
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Thank you, Joanne. You are doing well with will-power. I do post political things on my personal Facebook page, but I try to pick unbiased sources that give primarily facts. I like the way you handled that situation of one FB friend arguing with another. I’ve seen that, too, and they didn’t know each other. You’re right, it’s not worth losing a friend over our differences in opinion.
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