Who would you like to sit with on this park bench?
I am not the first to ask this question and I definitely will not be the last. Some people look at this park bench and think they would like to talk to a world leader, a movie star or a loved one who has passed on. We all have different people that we would like to talk to on this park bench.
I want to talk to someone who doesn’t think like me, who doesn’t agree with me, who has views different than me. I am bothered by the division that is affecting us as human beings right now. A sense that if you don’t agree with me then your opinion does not matter, you are quickly unfriended and the conversation ends. I find this troubling, how do we ever get to a place of peace without understanding our fellow human. There does not ever need to be agreement. EVER. It can just be a conversation. What if someone with completely different views than you owns the same breed of dog as you, can you not find commonality with them?
Alternatively, if you believe so strongly in your own truths and beliefs then would you not want to stimulate a conversation and see if you can create understanding for your point of you, who knows, maybe they might adopt some of your beliefs, that is not necessarily the mission but it could be a fringe benefit.
As a child, my home was thick with debate, many times the outcome was that people would just agree to disagree, but at the end of the visit there would be a hug and kiss goodbye followed by “see ya next time.” The friendship and the love didn’t end because the opinions differed.
I have found myself recently getting angry and judgemental about certain people’s opinions especially on social media. In my humble opinion, social media is not a place for discussion, especially if you want resolution. There are far too many people sitting behind a computer screen, baiting, and playing devil’s advocate because they like to see people spin. What I find myself doing instead is posting an opposing opinion without stepping headlong into a discussion with someone that in the end may just be a complete waste of time.
I have issues in my life that are personally very near and dear to my heart and those issues will always be forefront in my discussions and as much as I would like to say I would be open minded, it is a skill that I am leaning. The skill of deep listening. The skill of not talking. I do this because I want to know why, why do you feel that way? Why would you think it is ok to treat someone that way? Why do you support that politician? I am seeking to understand. Some conversations are easier. Some are really difficult and it takes everything in me to stay in the discussion, without losing my temper, but I am learning.
BUT when you know someone’s why that is where discussion can start as long as both parties are open and willing.
- Why do you vote for that party? Because my family always has and I’ve been told that is the way I will always vote no matter who is running.
- Why do you say those things about races other than your own? Because I’ve never known anyone outside of my race, but my family has told me my whole life to fear them and that they are inferior?
- Why do you hate immigrants? Because they take our jobs and now all of our veterans are homeless.
- Why do you hate people of the LBGTQ? Because I am a Christian and my church says that it is against God’s law
- Why do you abuse women? My dad and my mom knocked me around my whole life, I don’t want to do it, I”ve just never known any different.
- Why can’t you stop drinking and drugging? Why can’t you quit eating so much?
You do not need to agree with them, but can you see sometimes where the why comes from? Can you see how maybe your opinion can help them to see another angle, if they are willing and open, maybe just maybe with heartfelt discussion, we can begin the road to understanding. Again this is not to change someone’s mind but if both parties are willing and wanting to sit on the park bench together, maybe we can come closer to the center. Maybe we can start being kind and loving humans to each other once again. This is not about excusing behaviour, not about forgiveness, however you may find that forgiveness may come, for yourself and others.
My heart truly wants us to start communicating again, start understanding and starting loving and laughing with each other once again.
From the wise words of Brene Brown “I want to know that I have contributed more than I have criticized.”
In love, light and laughter
The park bench project is a project I will be starting on social media platforms and on a podcast format starting September.