I stand for the flag, I kneel at the cross.
Black lives matter.
Immigrants have rights, too.
Everyone who has an Emotional Stability animal just wants to bring their pet everywhere with them.
My child doesn’t need vaccinations because it could cause autism.
Donald Trump is the best president we’ve ever had. Ever.
How did those statements make you feel? I encourage you to sit with those feelings for just a moment.
We have the blessing and the curse of being able to scroll through social media everyday and we often encounter statements like these.
Statements that are educated and uneducated, kind and unkind, naive and well thought out.
We did this exercise in the Steamboat Formation – where we each thought of 3-5 potentially offensive statements, then we said one statement to the group, and we each had to show each other a paper that said that we either strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed, or strongly disagreed (notice how there’s no neutral answer).
I bet you’re thinking, “Why would they do this?? This might cause awkwardness and division within the group!!”
I have to admit, I was eager to jump into this and see Emily and Henry’s answer so that I could see who I sided with and who I disagreed with, taking sides and tearing the opposition apart with my intelligence from internet research on random matters.
So the answer to why we did this –
Henry explained what we were doing, like I did above, and then explained that we were going to discuss our opinions with each other. This was an exercise. A safe place to exercise what we would do when we encountered others that held similar or largely different beliefs.
We had fruitful discussions where we agreed and disagreed, where we considered where the other side was coming from, and where we groaned (not always in unison) at some statements because they were that ridiculous.
As a future social worker, I feel like I have been educated to listen first, to be non-judgmental, and to consider how different aspects of life can influence someone when working with and empowering clients.
In my head, I was so ahead of this little exercise that Henry was trying to challenge us with because of what I’ve learned.
What I realized though, is that I have my (as my friend Nathaniel likes to call it) -ish. I have my -ish; my own opinions, my own life experiences, and education that has shaped me and my beliefs and often times, I think they’re the right ones.
Like, for example, football players have every right to kneel during the national anthem. I support them 100%. They’re not doing it to disrespect our country or our veterans, but they’re kneeling to publicly show that not everyone in this country is experiencing the equality that they deserve. It’s a non-violent, safe, and respectful way to use the voice that they have.
Maybe you read that and thought, bull SHIT, Kirsten!
Maybe you read that and thought, hell YEAH, Kirsten!
This is an opinion that I hold and one that I think is right.
We all think that we hold the right opinion (even if it’s just a leeeettle part of us). My hope for you (and for myself) is that we have the guts to admit “hey, maybe I don’t know everything.” That we have the guts to be non-judgmental. That we have the guts to listen and not rip each others throats out when we disagree.
Thanks for reading. 🙂