It’s January and resolution time! Millions of people will vow to lose weight, get in shape, save money, or make some other promise to do better personally. I applaud resolutions for identifying areas to improve and grow. Self-reflection is critical to overall health and happiness because it brings clarity about the adjustments needed to live more fully and more authentically and lead to effective action.
While personal resolutions can be helpful, social change is so so powerful, turning resolution into revolution. So let’s revolt! Let’s turn the tide of what’s become a social norm, which saddens me. These days it is acceptable to ridicule and belittle anyone who disagrees. Difference of opinion is disrespected. Just look at our politicians call each other out, publicly attacking the personal imperfections of a foe. Now I’m not only talking about disagreements about social policy. The attacks are about looks and attractiveness, mannerisms, and worse.
Don’t get me wrong…politicians alone are not to blame. After all, would they behave the way they do if they didn’t have an accepting audience? Good question. I watched friends fight on social media during the last presidential election because they had different political views. They are no longer friends.
We can do better. We must do better for our collective mental health and physical safety. You see, demoralizing and dehumanizing another person puts us one step closer to violence against those who have their own opinions. If you don’t see someone as human, i.e. worthy only because they don’t mirror you, then it becomes easier to harm them. According to the FBI, hate crimes increase during presidential election years, perhaps because differences—beliefs, gender, race, religion, status--are on open display. So for the perps, difference = violence. We must do better.
Nate Boyer sets a perfect example. The former Green Beret and NFL player was offended by Colin Kaepernick sitting during the National Anthem. Yet instead of demonizing Kaepernick and labeling him anti-American as so many did, Nate actually spoke with Colin about his cause. After their lengthy conversation, Nate understood Colin’s objective and suggested he kneel because kneeling is a sign of respect in the military. And peaceful protest is oh so patriotic.
While I'm not sure that Nate agrees with Colin, I am certain that Nate was mature enough to set his own ego and beliefs aside to gain perspective about a differing opinion. You see, understanding is not agreement. Understanding is acceptance of diversity. Understanding is seeing the inherent worthiness of difference without relinquishing your own beliefs.
So let’s follow Nate’s commendable action…seek to understand and learn that difference of opinion is a valuable form of diversity.
We must do better. We can do better. Let the revolution begin.
Glen Alex is an author, speaker, health & wellness coach, clinical social worker, humanitarian, and health advocate. www.livingintotalhealth.com