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Challenge: Raising Kind Kids

Acknowledgement is not Agreement: How to be Kind when we Disagree

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There’s been a shift in the world, in the way in which we treat one another. Have you felt it?

I have started to notice it more and more in the last maybe 5 years or so, that something changed.

There have been disagreements since the beginning of time, but it feels like no one is agreeing to disagree anymore.

Cyber bullying is exploding all over social media and one of the biggest triggers these days is politics.

There are so many keyboard warriors ready to attack, because thanks to our social media platforms; they often know our opinions, before they really know us.

There’s a local resident’s page in my little town, where so many fights happen on the regular and I sit there in wonderment; that all these people are neighbors and are going to run into each other in our only grocery store the next day! Do you think they won’t recognize you from your profile picture? Goodness! I’d wear a paper bag on my head if I was talking to my neighbors online, like so many people I’ve witnessed do!

I wonder how far we’ve fallen that we don’t know what it means to be a good neighbor anymore.

It used to be that our family, friendships and acquaintances weren’t defined and more importantly weren’t ended, based on if we were Republican or Democrat. There used to be a civility between us, that no matter what opinions we differed in, at the end of the day we recognized that we were still neighbors, friends or family and that we still have many more common threads that bind us. Now, you see people making grand declarations on their Facebook pages, “If you voted for So-So, unfriend me now!” Really?

I made a resolution this year that no matter how much I may not agree foundationally with someone’s opinions, that I would be quiet and hear them out; so that I could understand what life experience led them to that point of view. That way, I could marry their strong points of view, with who they are aside from our clashing perspectives. It makes it easier to find common ground. I wanted to make sure that on the most basic level, I was respecting them as a human being, who has the right to their opinions.

That’s what’s really wrong now. There is so little respect to be found in OUR generation. So, what are we modeling for our kids? You see the bullying starting at quite honestly, unacceptable ages nowadays. You see children with no respect for their parents, their elders, their authority figures and most importantly, themselves. WE have to change, if we want them to be kind, tolerant and loving to the world around them, not just the people who think exactly like them.

What are we showing our kids if we unfriend, stop speaking to or otherwise ostracize people in our lives that don’t share our points of views? That they shouldn’t accept differences? What happens the next time THEY meet someone who is a bit different in their lives? Perhaps the lack of being inclusive to kids who have special needs or kids that stand out, and the bullying and subsequent suicides of these beautiful children who are FAR too young to even be thinking like this; is a reflection of what they see the adults in their lives doing, on some scale.

All these blood baths we’ve seen in the last several elections due to politics, cannot define our culture and our future.

You can acknowledge people who think differently than you. We never know what experiences shape a person’s perspective and we don’t have the right to invalidate their viewpoints, because we don’t agree.

You can stand up for what you believe is right, without stepping on people to do it.

You can communicate effectively and get your points across, while not being condescending and calling those who don’t see things your way, names.

We have to come together and understand that acknowledgement is NOT agreement. I don’t have to agree with who you voted for or what your lifestyle is and you don’t have to think like me or understand why I make the choices I make. But just because we don’t see eye to eye, that doesn’t mean we should disrespect, ignore or berate each other. I still owe it to you, to acknowledge you as a person and treat you with love and respect.

A tremendous lack of love is what we’re dealing with now in our world, in our children, in our friendships.

My faith tells me that loving my neighbor as myself, is my highest calling. How could we change the world and the course we’re on, if we put a bigger priority on loving people, than we did on being right?

What would happen if you made a promise to yourself, that you wouldn’t ever insult another human being; just because they thought differently than you?

What shift would we see, if we opened up friendly and respectful dialog's among family, friends, and co-workers and ended those conversations with a hand shake and a sheepish; “Agree to disagree?”

How amazing would it be if we started talking TO people, instead of ABOUT them? Imagine the problems we could solve!

What if we stop contributing to the disrespect and ugliness, we are all so tired of and start being the change we want to see in the world and more importantly the change our kids NEED to see happen? We have the power to adjust the course we’re on, so that they have a bright and beautiful world to look forward to.

People change and evolve. Politicians come and go. Sometimes our opinions even evolve, as we do. However, some people we may never see eye to eye with. The next time you are confronted by a person who doesn’t see things the way you do, try to take a step back and view them for the whole person they are, not just for their differing points of view. Then try to approach each person with a foundational love and respect for them as your fellow humans. Let love lead the way, because love…love is what matters.

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