What I’m NOT Doing between Now and November

Lately, a lot of my friends and other contacts have been publicly inviting people who disagree with their choice of candidates, platforms, or political parties to “unfriend me now!” I can empathize with what prompts such declarations. You get tired of being called ignorant, or sheep, or whatever, by people you thought cared for you, and who you care(d) about. Or you get tired of those one or two people who sniff out any tiny whiff of partisanship on your part and then blast your friends with the tenacity of a dog with a bone.

Let me tell you ONE more time why I think you’re wrong…gnaw gnaw. Image by @9_fingers_ via Twenty20

Now, I have some pretty strong beliefs on political, social, and religious grounds, and I am not ashamed of them, so I’m not going to succumb to fear and never be who I am in social media. If they come and round me up later for expressing my beliefs, well, I will have led a good and consistent life, and I’ll deal with the consequences.

I don’t think it’s helping one bit to egg people on and act like the stereotype you’re trying to deny you’re a part of, though. So, here’s what I plan to do between now and the beginning of November, which is a big election time in the US (some of you may not know; the US isn’t the most important place for everyone on earth, I’m told).

I’m also going to spend a lot more time looking at nature, like this extra cool Apache jumping spider.

I’m not going to remove from my social media accounts all my friends, coworkers, business contacts, and family members who express their affiliation with a different candidate than the one I favor. Believe it or not, I find that I do have other things in common with them, or like them for other reasons. It’s possible if your mindset isn’t that, “Every Party X member is a doofus.” (I will point out that yes, some Party X members are doofuses; some party Y and Z members are ALSO doofuses.)

Right? Image by  @desteniev via Twenty20.

I will “snooze” some folks on Facebook if something they say upsets me, but I won’t un-follow, unfriend, or whatever, unless someone comes across as genuinely dangerous or unhinged. So, yeah, if you threaten to kill me or people I love, I might put some distance between us. That’s just common sense.

I’m not going to waste my breath and time trying to “educate” or chastise people who say things I disagree with or find mildly offensive in response to comments on other people’s Facebook posts, tweets, or Instagrams. I have learned that’s how you (along wity people like yourself) earn bad reputations with other groups. I see it enough in comments on my own posts, and know how damned hard it can be not to respond (I do fail at times). Just go vote, folks, and realize most others have already made up their minds.

A good plan. Image by @MargJohnsonVA via Twenty20

If I share memes, I’m going to try to make it the constructive and encouraging kind, not the kind that puts down others. I have friends who share some real doozies that I enjoy, because I’m human, but every time I’ve even slightly hinted that some other bunch of folks might not have the right idea about something, I end up feeling bad about doing it. I guess I’m pretty firm that passive-aggressive memes serve more to make the person sharing them look bad than to shame the intended audience.

Slightly off topic, but hey, it’s my blog:

Honestly, I don’t need any help to know I’ve been a bad friend or done some things I shouldn’t have that won’t be forgiven or forgotten. I’m trying to forgive my own dang self and learn from the mistakes, so rubbing my nose in it just makes me resentful, not a better person. I wonder if all the nameless people so many accusatory memes are aimed at feel that way, too, if they see themselves in the words, of course. Targeted memes (personal or political) probably mostly miss the intended audience.

Also off topic: I did finally get a photo of the green heron!

Back on track

Anyway, another thing I’m going to do in social media and in person between now and November is be friendly to everybody I run across. I can find something neutral or positive to talk to just about anyone about, and that is what helps us all remember there’s good in everyone. Engaging with the people around me is one concrete thing I can do to help heal the divisiveness and partisan negativity we seem so mired in these days.

We’re all just chickens, say Springsteen and Patty.

I know I’m not alone in seeing people as fellow humans first, and labels second. It’s easy to disparage a faceless group, but one on one, it’s a lot harder. I am glad to have people around me who are great role models in this way of interacting, and yes, some of the best ones do not agree with all of my political and social views. When I’m feeling frustrated, I think of all the hard-working and thoughtful people I know who are trying to make the world better by working with each other. Thanks to everyone who helps with that!

How about you, are you up for trying any of the things I’m going to try to do for the next couple of months? If you’re not, what is your plan for dealing with the challenges of the pre-election period? What’s working for you?

Let’s talk!

How to Be a Superhero, or Not

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook may notice that I don’t share very many memes, but when I do, they tend to be from the Tiny Buddha page. Tiny Buddha was founded by Lori Deschene in 2009, and has always been a favorite source of content that is both uplifting and insightful. The content they share is always relevant and thoughtful, unlike a lot of meme sources that I don’t particularly enjoy.

Ooh, that’s right!

Today’s meme that was shared is one of those little ideas that spark some contemplation in me. That usually means I have to go for a walk around the office to think, but since I’m working from home today, I walked the dogs and thought, using the rest of my lunch break to write. (Now you know how I do all this…I fit things into small blocks of time and type fast.)

How I felt as a kid. Image from @rfgjune1968 via Twenty20

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be Supergirl. I wanted to save many planets, bring people in danger to safety, and be invulnerable to attack. In fact, I still like Supergirl, since she’s a superhero with a big heart and a little bit of self-doubt on occasion. I think, in reality, my goal was to do something big with my life, not just hide in the shadows and watch the world go by.

Hmm

The above paragraph does explain a lot about me. I wanted to be relevant, meaningful, and accomplished (in what I do not know, but I think it involved typing fast, for sure).

Of course, time passes and goals slip away. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped in my first career choice, thanks to a relationship or two that went bad (mistakes were made and mostly by me) and made me want to flee. I got lost for a while. I floundered. Then I crawled out of a hole, and one reason was that I stopped wallowing in my failures and found ways where I could help others.

Like Persephone, I found reasons to climb out of the underworld. (So dramatic, Suna!) Image by @BridgesBridgesBridges via Twenty20

No matter what’s gone on in my life since I caught my second wind, I’ve been proud to be able to help others, contribute to important causes, and make people’s lives better (helping mothers with breastfeeding and parenting, along with teaching so many people to knit and crochet may be what I am proudest of). Does that make me a superhero? No, probably not.

I haven’t physically fought bad guys, brought down corporate evil-doers, or written a book that saves lives. But, I can see that I made a positive difference in people’s lives by bringing them happiness, joy, or a sense of accomplishment. As someone recently pointed out, I always seem to be teaching someone something (that may explain the Master Naturalist thing).

You never know what YOU might do that constitutes being a hero. Maybe you listen to a friend in need. Maybe you can share a passion for animals or plants. Maybe you find a way to volunteer. Maybe your kindness to grocery store clerks makes their days better.

Mandi presented her own kids with tech awards. They both also work hard, for very little recognition. But I see!

Somehow, this all raises my spirits. I can think of people I know and what their “superhero” traits are, and my heart fills with admiration. Mandi mentors both adults and children in community theater, with no reward sought (I was proud she got acknowledged at last weekend’s children’s theater award banquet, though).

My friends Carolyn and Georgia constantly raise my awareness of social and political needs and actions I can take. My sister shares beautiful animals she finds on the Internet. My husband mentors people who want to learn about running businesses, even when he isn’t trying. Facebook friends and fellow bloggers open their hearts and make me feel both smarter and more connected. On and on.

Allow me to share some beauty. This little plant blooms twice a year! That makes it a superhero!

You don’t need to be a superhero. Just be you. It matters.