Love your neighbor, unless they’re different

Hello and happy Sunday Funday. [Blogged while doing too many things at once and really not getting anything done.]

I like to think that unfiltered, unbiased writing can help people learn, empathize and grow. But that’s hard to come by these days, isn’t it. Everyone’s got their own agenda, their own belief system and personal perspective. It’s hard to know who and what to listen to. I have my own agenda, but I’m able to at least hear opposing thoughts (I almost wrote “arguments,” but like, not everything has to be hostile). Opposing thoughts are beliefs, opinions and perspectives that don’t totally align with mine. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Or bad. Or malicious. It just means they’re different. (Unless your belief is that factory farming is 1,000% right and good because honestly that’s wrong and you might be a true psychopath.) Where was I? Ah, yes, accepting differences.

There’s a common sentiment often touted in the media we see on TV and our news feed. We’re encouraged to accept peoples’ differences. It’s sort of a generalized attitude across all populations who aren’t completely close-minded. Because, well, there’s no changing those people — and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It just means they’re choosing to limit themselves in their own personal growth. And honestly I think that comes down to mental and emotional intelligence, but hey, I’m not a psychiatrist. (Nor do I really know the difference between a psychiatrist and psychologist.)

So, I’m trying to understand how we got here. How we got to a point where people with different views and beliefs can’t even have civil conversations. I’m not talking about politicians or news anchors. I’m talking about you. When was the last time you sat down with a friend, family member or stranger and talked like adults about things that matter to you? Without yelling, without name calling, without getting defensive, without shutting down. I bet never. It’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us. It happens to me all the damn time. It’s hard to remain unbiased and calm when you’re seeing or hearing things that upset you. But maybe instead of posting emotional, angry and often insulting rants on social media, go do something about it. Call your local government. Get involved in your community. Educate friends and family in a way that’s supportive and meaningful. Because that’s how you reach people.

Whenever I see people overrun with emotion going at each other (like the media loves to show us), I think about one of the final scenes in my favorite Disney movie, Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Don’t you dare give me that look, have you even seen it? Anyway, spoiler for you idiots who haven’t. It’s two minutes. Honestly, it’s a beautiful scene and I almost just cried watching it. It was also the first animated movie where I realized I could be sexually attracted to a cartoon lion named Kovu.

This message isn’t directed toward the mentally disturbed people in politics. Because they’re all insane. I’m simply saying that maybe instead of judging someone because of a bumper sticker, re-post or sign in their yard, take a step back and remember you probably have more in common than you think. And that person isn’t your enemy. So chill the literal fuck out, stop using your energy to spread negativity, and buy the person wearing a MAGA hat or Biden T-shirt a cup of coffee next time you’re at a shop. Because they’ll say “thank you” and you’ll say “you’re welcome,” like two normal adult humans sharing a moment of kindness.