What if instead of pushing people apart, polarizing language actually has a purpose to help us come together?
I could be completely wrong about this – and I’m prepared to be – but hear me out.
Napoleon Hill told us in Think and Grow Rich that
“Opinions are the cheapest commodities on earth. Everyone has a flock of opinions ready to be wished upon anyone who will accept them. If you are influenced by ‘opinions’ when you reach DECISIONS, you will not succeed in any undertaking.”
Yet here we are, throwing opinions around all over the place and expecting that we can influence others without backing them up with facts.
And it appears to be “working.”
This is just an example of four pieces of direct mail I received yesterday.
If you look closely, you will see that Kevin Cramer’s face is on two of the pieces and Heidi Heitkamp’s face is on two of the pieces. I can’t really tell by just glancing whether they are PRO or ANTI either of them. When I look closer, it occurs that three of the pieces are ANTI the other candidate and only one is PRO.
No wonder we are confused.
Take those ANTI direct mail pieces above. I would venture to guess that if you just glanced at those flyers, you would see two pieces for Cramer and two pieces for Heitkamp. After all, that’s whose pictures are on them.
But take a closer look and you will see that three are probably put out by the Heitkamp people and one is by the Cramer people. Two of them (the two on the left) tell you how bad Cramer is, the one on the right tells you how bad Heitkamp is. The one in the front is the only one that speaks FOR a candidate.
Whose opinion matters so much to me that I am willing to allow that fear and ANTI sentiment sway me?
Where is the love?
I refuse to let hate and fear and ANTI language get to me. I know all of this chaos surrounding our world today has a higher purpose. For me, it’s to get me to see that when we fight AGAINST anything, we bring more energy to that which we say we are AGAINST.
Both “sides” of the political arena have gotten crazy. Have we forgotten that there is so much more we all stand FOR that could bring us together in dialogue? I’m very interested in learning why people believe what they believe. But when I get called names for being curious, it makes me less interested in hearing more from the name-callers. We humans tend to make up stories in our own heads when we’re dealing with fact gaps.
Why wouldn’t we want to get better at closing the gaps rather than expanding the chasm?
I evidently haven’t been looking in the “right” places to get facts. I’ve asked a lot of people about where I can go to get facts, and the answer I’ve gotten more than any other is “nowhere.” There evidently is no such thing as facts as it relates to controversial topics like religion and politics because we’ve gotten so polarized that we don’t even know how to have a conversation.
I’m not giving up, though. I’m choosing CURIOUS over FURIOUS, even though it’s much easier to get mad. Which reminds me of a really old commercial I learned about in a marketing class once upon a time …
Remember this one?
Is that where we find ourselves? We’d rather fight than switch?
Maybe if polarizing language has a job to do, that job is to unearth the hidden and underground frustration and upset that’s been lingering for far too long. We have to get mad to figure out what we don’t want before we’re able to decide what we want instead. It’s a slow process, but we didn’t get where we are overnight.
If I’m committed to dialogue over debate, then I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Who’s with me?