You know what’s annoying? Good intentions.
Well that’s not true, good intentions with problematic consequences are annoying. After the elections results, people with various ties, or lack thereof, to the election had some strong opinions. It seemed like anyone and everyone had something to say. Then came the good intentions of people so tired of seeing people talk negatively about politics on their timelines. There was this rhetoric of “hey everyone let’s focus on promoting peace and unity and not this hateful divisive rhetoric.”
Now let’s break this down. On one hand, yes, we should be able to have civil dialogue and be able to converse about differing opinions in a respectful way. On the other hand, you’re asking people to focus on peace and unity when a man who ran a campaign on the opposite of those things just became our president-elect. See how that doesn’t really work?
So, instead of asking for people to be peaceful and unified from the comfort of your home, how about you get a little uncomfortable. Here are some ways to ACTUALLY promote peace and unity instead of tweeting about it. Be the change you want to see in the world right?
1) Participate in a discussion outside of social media.
Social media is a great place to express ideas and exchange dialogue, but in no way is it the best place. You can’t always get the tone of what someone is saying and it is easy to get on the defensive and misunderstand what people are actually saying. After the election, everyone was talking about it, rightfully so. People are going to need a couple of days to “get over” something that will potentially have a huge effect on their lives. Text, call, email, make plans for coffee, whatever and talk to someone you saw was really vocal about their feelings on the election. Talking to each other outside of the Internet will probably work better for you both.
2) Get involved in an organization that promotes unity.
If you want to talk the talk, you also have to walk to walk. Facilitate or even just participate in a community discussion. If you don’t have anything to add to the conversation, at least act as a mediator to make sure things to get too heated. And outside of dialogue, get involved in organizations that are committed to fixing these issues in the first place. Peace and unity doesn’t come from simply getting along, it comes from actually understanding each other and the systems in place that create the issues we talk about in the first place.
3) Understand that peace and unity doesn’t always come from peace and unity.
People argue and disagree, that’s okay. Not everyone has to get along all the time. Would it be nice if we did? Yes. But we all know life doesn’t work like that. It’s beneficial for people to disagree and critique each others arguments in order to come up with a solution for everyone. How can we truly solve the problem if we just stop at addressing it and not addressing why people feel it’s a problem?
4) Have a discussion with the intent to seek peace and unity.
The most concerning thing about when people asking for peace and unity is that they are expecting for any conversation where people don’t agree to end up way too confrontational. Sometimes you have to be the bigger person and have a conversation where you don’t simply attack every point they bring up. If you go into the conversation wanting to listen, clarify if you have questions, then present your perspective, it will create a healthier way to discuss. Wanting peace and unity isn’t stepping away when people start to get confrontational, it’s redirecting the conversation and calling them out on it when it happens. It’s okay to want peace when discussing, but it’s also okay to walk away from that conversation when it is becoming more harmful than productive.
It’s okay to want peace and unity and those are obviously good traits to have when having a conversation, but we also need to be realistic. When you’re asking for unity are you really asking for people to talk so they can learn from each other? Or are you asking for people to be censored rather than challenge each other’s ideas?