It’s been a week since Election Day, and I’m hesitant to post much of anything about politics on this blog. I’m much more a fan of yoga and babies and motherhood and food and clothes! However, so much post-election news, commentary, predictions, and actions have been taking place that I feel weird not mentioning anything either. I want to share one experience that I had last week, and hopefully it won’t alienate anyone, no matter which candidate you voted for.
A little lead up to my big experience: On Wednesday of last week, I realized that I live in a bubble. And just beyond my bubble, Americans are having vastly different experiences, challenges, and struggles than I am. I know my own struggles, but I don’t know theirs. I don’t ask about them and I don’t look for them. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say that I’ve probably made a lot of assumptions. After the election was called, in my social media circles I started to see that so many good-hearted, kind, hard-working, loving people voted differently than me. Family members too. These are amazing people, people I strive to emulate. I started to think that more must unite us than divide us, right?
After coming to the sad realization that I had done nothing to learn about why friends and family members were supporting their candidate and what issues were important to them, I e-mailed a friend who happened to support a different candidate than I did. I told her that I wanted to learn about what was important to her in this election, what issues mattered. I promised that I didn’t want to be heard, that I just wanted to listen and learn. I nervously waited for her response, questioning the e-mail all together the second I hit send. I felt a load lift off my shoulders when she responded only minutes later with open arms. The world – this country – needs more open and honest conversation, she wrote. PHEW!
Not going to lie, it wasn’t easy going into a conversation knowing that I wasn’t going to be debating or inserting my take on things. But it was necessary in truly hearing the struggles and challenges that others have been facing. I came away from this meeting with a better understanding and more compassion (not to mention a whole list of book recommendations). After letting everything that my friend said digest, do I agree with her? Not on everything. But I understand her points. We agreed that we want to get to the same destination, but the routes to get there are different.
I was scared to reach out to her, scared to ask her to talk to me, someone from “the other side.” I was scared I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from interjecting. In the end though, these fears were put to rest. I had so many questions answered and such a better understanding of others’ experiences. I don’t think I would have had that same understanding had I been trying to get my points across. In fact I know I wouldn’t have.
This country has a lot of work to do, and I am now a firm believer in the fact that if we are going to accomplish anything, we need to listen and truly hear different views. Both sides need to. We need to empathize and connect, because we are all human beings wanting the best for ourselves and our loved ones.
In yoga, making improvements in our postures feels uncomfortable. The body has to work harder and stretch more. Muscles have to work in a way that they haven’t been working, and even the skeletal system can start to shift. It’s easy to back off and give up and settle for the comfort zone. But when you push beyond that discomfort, or better yet, get comfortable with the discomfort, serious change and improvement happens. It’s the same with people and relationships. I don’t want to retreat to my bubble, and I’m ready to practice listening just as much as I practice yoga.
I’d love to know about productive post-election conversations you’ve had!