Leadership

The Power of Acknowledgment

For the past few days, I have spent a lot of time on social media and online news sites, spending hours reading comments sections. My heart has been warmed by the outpouring of love and support that I’ve seen from so many people.

But my heart has been broken over and over as I see how self-centered and single-minded so many people can be. I spend a lot of time thinking about the divisive issues of our day. It seems as though many people think they can only sit on one side of any issue. For example, when someone says Black Lives Matter it does not mean that they don’t think other lives matter too. When someone says they need time and space to mourn the tragedies that continue to occur, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to find solutions. When someone suggests an idea, it doesn’t mean that they don’t think other ideas aren’t great too. 

Yet for every post or thought, it seems like there is someone waiting in the woodworks to oppose it. We have so many problems, so many injustices, so much inequality, but it often seems like no-one can say anything without someone lashing out against it. It does not mean that there shouldn’t be healthy, productive, debate – there absolutely must be. However, constructive communication requires a level of compassion, of critical thinking, of the ability to think beyond the self. This is what is lacking on social media. What if instead of “No” or “But” or “You are so wrong”, we instead used “I hear you” or “yes, and” or “I love you”. What if we actually acknowledged the feelings of others instead of bashing them? What if we led with compassion, followed with discussion, and ended with change? What if we stopped denying anyone else’s experience or needs, and we just loved them?

We live in a world where it seems that once you choose a side, it becomes impossible to cross the line and see or acknowledge any other point of view. The fact of the matter is that as a country, and as people, we need to come together. Instead of pushing each other apart, let’s lead with love, acceptance, and listening, and see what can happen. It is okay to change your opinion, just like it is okay to acknowledge an opinion that is different from our own. It is impossible for anyone to write every thought or feeling or emotion they are having – so let’s stop judging what someone does or doesn’t say – it doesn’t mean that they don’t also feel or think other things. Let’s listen, acknowledge, and love. We will each inevitably fail from time to time with the words we say or don’t say. Instead of bring each other down, let’s support each other. The world can be a scary, challenging, confusing place, but only with love and support of one another will we be able to change it. 

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