At marches in cities across the country over the last couple of weeks, one popular slogan has been some variation of “silence = violence”, meaning if you aren’t speaking out that you are part of the problem.
On the flip side of that message, we’ve also been told that if you’re a Republican and/or not black, then you need to be quiet.
Inconsistent messaging has been a common theme at a lot of these protests, but I wanted to address the “silence is not violence” and “be quiet if you don’t fit into a certain mold” messages here – because neither of them are true.
The last 2 weeks have been distressing for a lot of people, even those who are not news junkie types who spend every waking minute watching and analyzing the news and/or social media for the latest developments.
There are the implicit cries to “DO SOMETHING” which often we get after there has been a mass shooting or an officer-involved injustice. The urge to “DO SOMETHING” becomes overwhelming to some, including people who do their best to tune out the minute by minute updates because it gets to be too much.
Some see wrongdoing and want to act, but don’t know how. Others may want to help better their communities, but aren’t interested in being the person standing in front of the crowd yelling into a bullhorn. They want to just fade into the background, perform their good deeds, and then go about their business. They aren’t interested in back pats or being awarded the key to the city or being heralded by the MSM as the most woke person of the year.
For people who feel this way, there is good news.
You don’t have to be that person who marches in the streets. If you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of your city council members even though you’ve got a lot to say, that’s okay, too.
One of the best things you can do for your community and to help inspire the next generation is by quite simply leading by example in how you go about your daily life.
How do you treat people? Are you impatient with the grocery store clerk who isn’t moving fast enough? Have patience. Maybe they’ve had a bad day. Or maybe it just takes them a little longer to ring up your purchase.
It’s not really the end of the world if you have to wait a few extra minutes. While you’re there, maybe compliment the person in some way or say something nice. Nine times out of ten, that’ll bring a smile and change the whole transaction. You’d be surprised at how often frowns are turned upside down by simply being nice to people.
The next time you go into the store, if that clerk is there they will probably remember you and wave.
Another thing you can do is stop and listen to people. And by “stop” I mean put your cell phone away when someone is talking to you. Look into their eyes as they speak so they know you’re really listening. I know I get frustrated when I’m talking to someone and they are doing nothing but staring at their phone – in spite of the fact that there is a real live person in front of them trying to converse.
People like it when you listen to them. It shows you care in some way. Doesn’t mean you have to solve all of their problems, but listening goes a long way.
I have found over the years that random acts of kindness like these – whether they be kind words or actions – can make you a lot of friends, or at the very least gets people to treat you with courtesy and respect in your community (more often than not).
It sounds cheesy, but it’s really true. And whether you know it or not, people around you see this. Some will appreciate it enough to act similarly in their future interactions. Instead of being impatient and angry that things aren’t all going their way, they’ll step back and say to themselves that whatever minuscule “wrong” that is happening is not worth getting worked up over.
Charlotte is a city that has far more Democrats than Republicans. I’m fairly certain that at least half if not more of the people I interact with on any given day, whether it be at a concert or at the drug store or in a restaurant or what have you, don’t think the way I do when it comes to politics.
But we get along just fine. We agree on much more than we disagree. We volunteer for the same community events sometimes. Sure, there’s always that one person in the crowd who sometimes has to bring politics into the discussion, but it’s in those situations that I just politely decline to take the bait and steer the conversation into neutral territory where we can agree to disagree while still letting the person know that I am unapologetically conservative.
It really is okay to talk politics with your friends, family, and neighbors as long as there is an implicit agreement to be civilized about it.
Having said that, though I argue politics enough online everyday, I’m not much interested in doing it offline unless someone is insistent. If they are, I’ll be happy to defend my position on any given issue in a way I hope I can win over the people around me, or at least get them to understand where I’m coming from.
More often than not, people respect that. Might even be fortunate enough to change a mind or two.
It’s in how we treat people in our everyday lives that we can set good examples for the generation that comes after us.