Tuesday night, 3:00 am, wake up call. More like wake up earthquake. My entire world view was hit hard. My foundation rocked.
I always believed in decency. Respect for others’ opinions. I was never a hard left guy – more in the middle between responsibility and compassion. My own political views were really borne out of my upbringing and environment. Help those in need. Be mindful of those less fortunate. Protect the environment. Tolerance. Respect and celebrate diversity. Simple, basic stuff.
For the first 24 hours I was in a daze. Shock. Disappointment. Anger. Fear. Concern for my young kids. I feared for people who were not in the majority of the winning nominee. The poor. The Muslim community. The African Americans. LBGT. Jews. Latinos. Women. The disabled.
How could so many people have such different views than my own?
After the shock wore off, I kept struggling with where do I go from here? Do I protest? Do I move to Canada? Do I just retreat and give up?
What was I really upset about though?
Mostly I realized, I was upset that I didn’t see this tsunami coming. How could I not see this? How could I not understand that this was really a viable, serious potential outcome?
So I went deeper inside of myself. In previous blog posts, I have described my own journey which is one of self-discovery and self-actualization. And so I took a deep dive into my own thought process and views. And I started to come to an even more profound realization.
That my own narrative was the problem. I was blinded by this narrative.
I read The New York Times everyday for forty years and I told myself that I was the one in the real know. They were “uneducated” and I was the “educated” one because I read Maureen Dowd’s column. And she thought like me.
Everyday for four decades of my life I read the media I loved and found comfort in knowing my own tribe thought just like me. They had the same rational arguments as me. And since it appeared that everyone I knew read the same media, watched the same Charlie Rose episode and listened to the same Ted Talks, I was in the majority and in the know.
I now see how blinded, manipulated and naive I was because I, too, only kept my own company.
Maybe we all do. We hide behind our “likes”, our photos of our fantasy lives on Instagram and Facebook and we build our own communities and walls of affirmation around us using our social media footprint. It’s so damn easy. We so effortlessly build our own narratives and communities using social media tools to attract those that think just like us. In the “old days”, we had to actually go out and argue or articulate our views to find common ground with those that didn’t think just like us. These days we simply push a “like” button and we win!
Do people of different views actually talk to each other anymore? Or do we hide behind emojis and ❤️ buttons?
Does this build empathy or are we the ones actually building walls of intolerance? Today, we simply build communities on our phones using our fingers and our photos. We don’t actually engage in much of anything substantive anymore.
There is a world of pain out there and while I thought I saw it, I didn’t really see it. I read Nick Kristoff’s columns, but I didn’t live in the small town that had no jobs and a horrific opiate problem. There is an America out there that I just don’t know or didn’t fully understand. Despite my best efforts to not live in a bubble, I lived in a New York Times bubble. I lived in my own social media bubble.
No more. I canceled my subscription to The New York Times. To The Wall Street Journal. And Huffington Post. And others.
Drastic? I am sure it can be perceived as an overreaction. But I need a radical transformation to step out of my own bubble. I need to unsubscribe to my own community of “likes” and instead subscribe to a community of empathy.
I am now subscribing to more compassion. And more action. Sign me up for that!
I also see that I need to focus more on my own community. That’s where I can make a difference. Instead of hiding behind my own political narrative and the leaders I thought would do the right thing for those in need, I can’t live with that view anymore. It’s honestly the core of the problem plaguing our country in my opinion. We need to as a country, get more involved in serving and helping, and let go of our stringent ideologies which only further divide us and create more anger, fear and hatred towards those who don’t subscribe to our views.
And it starts with me. As Gandhi so famously said, “Be the change you want to see.”
I reject racism. I will fight any anti-semitisim, bullying and bigotry. I will always keep my eyes wide open for that. If I see signs of a threat to a woman’s right to choose, I will stand up and be heard.
But I need to change my own narrative and get out of my own news and information bubble. While this hurts like hell, if this is a call to renew our faith in each other, find common ground, to love more and help others in need, then we should answer that call.
I saw a great quote from Deepak Chopra…”Perhaps the future no longer depends on a single leader but on each of us who can quietly dedicate our life to light, love & healing.”
My views on our political system haven’t changed and I have deep concerns about the country we are leaving to the next generation. But I told my kids what I tell myself — just be compassionate and be kind. Help where you can. Stand up to hatred and bigotry. Use your voice to be heard. Now more than ever, that’s what our country needs. And maybe that’s the best thing to happen here — we fight to take back decency and compassion from the institutions and leaders that we put our faith in.
But to do so, we also need a radical transformation of how we talk to each other and how we seek to build more empathy. My advice is to listen more to others with alternative views and whose struggles perhaps we were ignorant to. Stop hiding behind your own narrative and tools of affirmation like your own news and social media, and get more involved. Locally. Anywhere.
And so for me…
Goodbye New York Times and hello compassion.
Here’s to more peace, empathy and love during these challenging times,