Divide and Conquer

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I have started and stopped this entry more times than I care to count. Less so in lack of things to say but rather the fear that what I say will be misheard, misrepresented, and misconstrued. In lieu of last nights results I have watched at least half of the United States fall apart. Disdain, disgust, and shock swept through the homes of citizens as we watched the candidate who went from being a glorified joke with no political experience defeat a woman with 30 years of experience.

Before I continue let me be clear about something, because I know a fair amount of you clicked on this just to find out who I supported/didn’t support in this election. I will not say, and I should not need to say. It is not for you to know, and if you know me you do not need to inquire anyways. The only thing that telling strangers who you supported accomplishes is a swift kick of judgment from the opposing party. That being said, I will continue.

You could chalk this result up a million different ways, but no matter how you chalk it up, do not dehumanize others in the exercise of processing it. “Well, Trump dehumanized everyone! Do you know the things he has said?”…

Yes. I’m well aware. We all are. No one of us has escaped the divisiveness of this election. I think this result is interesting in the sense of basic math. Look around folks, at your friends, your family, and respected/well rounded individuals in your community; at least a few of these individuals that you know and love voted Trump in this election.

Furthermore, I believe this election was largely underestimated, as the majority of Trump voters were closet Trump voters. People felt backed into a corner in choosing one of the two worst candidates our country as ever been presented with, and yes, I HEAR you…Trump took things to another level. His character, and his statements are without exception horrid. Contrarily, Hillary embodied the establishment in every way regardless of your personal opinion of her ability to be presidential. The DNC pushed her in, came unprepared, and underestimated Trump. For goodness sakes man was given every media platform in the country for a year. He was the center of everyone’s attention regardless of political affiliation. What was the loss for Trump? He has other people running his company, more press time than any businessman could pay for, and traveled in a jet all over the world propping himself into a media storm. He bypassed 16 running mates with ease, divided the Republican Party, and evoked a voice of opposition to rhetoric that enticed millions of voters as the lesser of two evils. The man had nothing to lose, and now he will hold the Presidency.

But let’s take Trump out of the equation for a moment. The Internet is a playground where cowards tearing into each other are the norm with or without politics. It is a place where everyone is saying something but very few are really listening. There is nothing you can say with haste that is going to stop my world even if I agree with you whole-heartedly. The truth is, you just open the doors for people to see you as immature, on the verge of a stroke, and unable to interface your opinions without also needing to dehumanize an individual or group in the process. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not talking about the occasional vocalization of frustration and/or disagreement. I’m referring to those whose life depends on letting you know how right or wrong you really are, and if you’re wrong, you are nothing short of a piece of shit.

Thanks. That helps everyone.

Jumping back to the election hear this:

  • You have every right to be upset
  • You have every right to vocalize your disappointment
  • You don’t have to “just get over it”
  • You are allowed to process it

It’s been an intense, unruly, and disappointing election in more than one way. We aren’t going to just ease out of this. I’m not suggesting we all act like little angels who don’t have emotions, but I also do not believe that rioting, dehumanizing, chastising, or making generalizations about populations that may or may not be responsible for this outcome. Everyone went in a booth, everyone voted, and while you can clearly define what the majority feels you cannot insist on isolating every single individual to a piece of shit. Not in this election, and not with the amount of turbulence in our social framework. You may hate it, but it is true. This election brought the worst out to play on both sides from start to finish.

Going one step further I want to insist that now more than ever you be purposeful in not just saying something on social media, but doing something. Whatever convictions you have for social justice, wherever your desire to see social and cultural change, get up and go do something. History has proven time and time again that the most precedent movements of change began with small groups of dedicated individuals. Quit hash tagging about social progressions however you define them and go BE progressive. Technology can create conversation, it can create trends, and it can build alliances of conviction but it is not a substitute for real time. Whether it is at the local, regional, state, national or international level go where your conviction takes you. The government isn’t going to do it for you, and the Internet isn’t going to do it for you. We can preach tolerance and love from anywhere in the world through our screens but our screens will never act on tolerance and love. If this election has taught me anything it is that tolerance is limited. As long as tolerance fits your model, you will tolerate it.
The truth is nothing about this election brought me pride. Division ran ramped throughout the entire process, and, in our attempt to proudly exclaim our country devoid of being as ugly as our candidates we have only reaffirmed that we are. I’m not happy with the outcome, many of you who voted Trump are not happy with the outcome, and yet here we are. I am not suggesting I know the best way a country transitions into a Trump presidency. I am not suggesting you aren’t allowed to have emotion and express those emotions, but I am suggesting we not let one person divide and conquer.

Anxieties With Anxieties

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Anxiety is an invisible, unrelenting and at times crippling feeling that holds your nerves hostage. It shoots up through the back of your throat, and throttles your heart into marathon mode. If you’re like me, heat rushes through your body accompanied by numbness, tingling, and shaking. Anxiety not only in its nature to deceive our mind also deceives our physical body. If you’ve never experienced severe anxiety or panic you are unable to comprehend its ability to literally feel like a life threatening situation.

In complete transparency I have no quarrel admitting that anxiety has at times become a debilitating struggle in specific seasons of my life, primarily those that uproot me with literal change. This may come as a surprise to you, but I am not always a complete goof. In fact, I take life too seriously, and do you know why? Because I don’t trust life. When someone says, “Everything will be okay” I used to (occasionally still do) want to punch him or her in their calm face.

Let me give you an illustration that I believe describes intense anxiety. I’m standing in a room. There is nothing especially ordinary or unordinary about where I am, but I am a part of this place in that I am aware. Something strikes me as off about where but I’m not sure what it is, and I cannot identify its source. Anxiety builds off of being unsure what this off feeling is, but I am sure that whatever it is, it is becoming more tangible than the room in which I stand. This thing, this off feeling that manifests from an unknown place, feels more real than the floor I’m standing on. Everything zooms in swiftly (like in the movies) and I become increasingly isolated to this feeling. My knees buckle, my breath shortens, and even though I feel like running somewhere I do not move. I am in the most literal sense trapped in my mind. Let’s consider for a moment someone who has experienced anxiety and panic described in that detail to you as their current reality. How would you respond? I truly believe most of us have at least experienced some form of intense Anxiety/Panic/PTSD but I also know a handful of people who have not and certainly not at the level one might label “extreme.”

So there are two things I want to clarify here, beyond the experience itself.

 1.) IF YOU HAVE STRUGGLED WITH ANXIETY/PANIC

  • Anxiety will come and it will eventually go, but one thing is indisputable…anxiety will force you to deal. You will have to breathe, you will have to search, you will have to “come to”, you will have to get up the next day and you will have to express to someone you trust regardless of whether they can do anything that you’re in the battle. Let me tell you this, if you think you’re being tough by keeping it all in you are not. I know, it may not be something that can be understood. You may be recovering from a traumatic season or memory. You may not want to be vulnerable. I get it. However, I also know this; if you do not bring community in, anxiety will become your community and you will live with it. You will watch TV with it, go to dinner with it, and day-by-day, week-by-week, you will literally walk with it.

2.) IF YOU LOVE SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY/PANIC- I am not going to complicate this, because it is not very complicated. In fact, I think it’s more of a list, so, here’s the list.

  • Do not tell them to calm down. They aren’t calm. Give them a minute.
  • Do not invalidate their fear(s) not matter how irrational they may be.
  • Do not respond in a way that will penetrate their feeling of being alone.
  • Do not insist they cheer up or go out with you, but offer.
  • Do – Be Patient, Be Loving, Listen, or Just be with them.
  • Do- Answer their phone call if you can.
  • Do- Ask questions that help them think through the source (if you can).
  • Do- Check in. They may seem like a zombie but they will love you for it.
  • Do- Remind them. They aren’t crazy, but you get that it feels really bad.

Let me end with this. I have never failed because of my anxiety. I have never not shown up. I have considered it, but I never just quit all together. I’m just referring to everyday life, and you may be thinking, well, you haven’t had MY life. You’re right, I haven’t, and if anxiety completely stopped your life I am sorry. I’m sure it is validated on some level. However MY truth remains on the premise of a mindset, which says that while anxiety screams no I must say yes eventually. I also believe that I was designed with a promise that will oversee every season of my life. I will be on the receiving end of grace. I will be taken care of even when I feel abandoned. It is my personal belief that this world no matter how full of turmoil was intended to be woven and strengthened with predestined relationships. Do you have to work at relationships? Yes. Are they a coincidence? No. Be vulnerable. Make that phone call. Reach out to that friend. Pray, reflect, and keep steady with hope.