A good friend of mine posted a video yesterday about how quickly someone could procure an AR-15 in Orlando in the aftermath of the recent shooting. (The answer was 38 minutes by the way.)
The video was well produced and released by the Huffington Post. My natural reaction was astonishment, which is no surprise; I'm anti-gun, all for gun legislation, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around any other viewpoint.
But it was the comments that got to me and then made me think more deeply.
One man posted links to at least a dozen conservative media outlet articles on how Obama is making deals with ISIS, and how Liberals hate Christianity.
Then here was the exchange that got under my skin:
We disagree and that's what makes our country great. We can and are able openly express it... I trust my heart. It's all I need to learn. Notice, I haven't told you to do anything. I actually never did when I posted this. I'm about to go inspire 120 kids in our nation's capital. Guns, politics or religion won't be what I talk about. It's about bringing people together by letting the world feel your heartbeat. That's what I believe we need more of. Not more division and hate.
Cool. I'm going to take care of my patients and improve the quality of their lives. Pay enormous taxes for being successful at it, pray for my enemies and loved ones, get ridiculed for it by your friends whom you never seem to take to task while expressing your meaningless mindless platitudes, while saying you love me. This is about freedom, willful ignorance and deception. The killer's own statements prove what this was about. Wake up friend.
As I read this other man's words, I found my blood beginning to heat up towards a boiling point. My emotions were telling me he is dangerous because he is different. That his language, character assassinations, and condescension mean he is less civilized. That he is an asshole I can and should write off.
But this is not truth.
I have grown up around people of like minds to my own. The majority of my facebook feed is liberal slanted, love focused, and positive in nature. So anyone entering my awareness from the other polarity will be viewed as dangerous.
I have to acknowledge that likewise, this man is likely surrounded by his own viewpoints, and that we likely come off as dangerous to him when we present our differing ideas.
It was in the program I took through Gestalt that I learned to hold opposing viewpoints and consider them from a place of love when I became friends with a wonderful man who it turned out had very different opinions than my own about a range of issues. Because I loved him as a human being, I heard his differing opinions with a respectful and loving ear.
Similarly, through my time in the Stagen Leadership program, I came to befriend a number of conservative Texans who hold polar opposite beliefs to my own. And here's the thing—these were good people. They love their families and work hard. They would have likely taken a bullet for me.
It's so important during these times of disagreement that we not demonize one another. People with differing viewpoints are not evil. They simply have a different set of values that they prioritize. The more we can hear each other with the ears of respect and love, the more we can work together to find our common ground and move the world forward. In the absence of that ability, we draw lines in the sand, dig trenches, and get caught defending our position, but never moving forward.
Please. Listen and take time to breathe before reacting. We have so much to learn from one another once we finally understand we are the same.