I started this blog in June 2016, mere days after the referendum that saw the UK vote to end it’s membership of the European Union.
It started, like many projects do, with a grand idea. One that hoped to bring like minded people together. One that hoped to give people a place to get support and discuss ideas. A place that would keep a tab on events and the news and aim to myth bust spin and stats.
But, like many projects, it just didn’t go anywhere. Despite the great initial response from all the visitors to the site, I quickly became pretty despondent with not only the whole Brexit situation, but watching the ordinary people of the country polarise even more and continue to turn on each other day in, day out.
From my perspective, this only seems to have gotten worse, or at least I am noticing it more and more.
It all starts with empathy, even for those you disagree with
No matter what the topic, people of different opinions seem to be completely unable or completely unwilling to try and see things from the other side or at least try to understand how that person ended up with the opinion that they have.
For me, it’s a lesson I’ve been taught my entire life: the differences between fact and opinion, the need to accept that others may not think the same way as you and how to have a constructive conversation.
At the bottom of all this is empathy. If you want to be empathetic, you need to be more than just empathetic to people you agree with or feel sorry for, you need to empathetic to everyone. I feel especially strongly that I don’t want to be hypocritical here in this space – I can’t encourage people to love one another if I hate the people who don’t want to love one another.
Everyone is on their own journey
Sometimes I feel that people need to take a step back and remember a time in their lives where perhaps they felt differently about an issue than they do now. Perhaps you were born with a perfect sense of righteousness, but I suspect like me most of you will have at some point changed your mind on something for the better.
Once you understand this, you will understand that it is possible for a person to change their opinion. That maybe those who haven’t reached the point of changing their opinion are not bad people for having the opinion that they have. Maybe the fact that you are further along your journey or at a different stage to another doesn’t put you on some sort of moral high ground where you are able to chastise those you disagree with.
Choose whether you want to help or hinder your own cause
Imagine a time when someone with a differing opinion has confronted you with an insult. When they have tried to reduce the things you feel passionate about to something worth of ridicule. How did that make you feel? Did it make you feel like you wanted to listen to their point of view and see what they had to say? Or did it make you put your walls and entrench yourself in your own beliefs even further?
I know for me it’s the latter. When someone insults me, I want to turn on them. They are wrong. I am right.
When I have a chance to reflect on this I realise that I don’t want to make others feel this way, not least of all because if their is someone I have a chance to nudge in the direction of my cause, I’m probably better off approaching them with understanding and kindness where I can potentially chip away over time, plant seeds that may later grow, rather than make 99.99% sure they will never change their mind and possibly increase their hostility to those promoting my cause.
One of these ways may help, the other feels less likely.
No one has ever been insulted into agreement
I’ve not managed to find the original source of this quote, but I love it, and I think people should take it and have a really good think about whether they want to change opinions, or whether they want to just feel that they are right.
I know, it’s hard
I have been trying to talk to people about this a lot. Largely I have received a negative response, since rather than hearing what I am saying, take my words to be arguing against their cause or point, which I am not doing. As I result I have become frustrated with these people and written them off as those too entrenched in their own opinions to be willing to change.
I have felt this, only to realise that I am doing exactly what they are and entrenching myself in the belief that they should be more open to discussion.
So from here, I’m vowing to be more patient with them. To play the long game. To chip away bit by bit, so after some time, perhaps they will be reach to deescalate the discussion and be willing to consider the opinions of others, no matter how much they dislike them.
The 48 Percent site will be going away soon
It is far from lost on me that the very existence of a blog created for one side of a very divisive topic is not in the spirit of what I’m talking about here, and so I’ve decided that the site will soon come offline and be replaced with something dedicated to promoting the message of love and understanding.
I will send out an email with info of the new blog when it is ready to this mailing list, so if you’d like to hear about it, make sure you are subscribed:
Until then, I hope everyone is well and taking good care of each other, and I would love to hear any thoughts you have in the comments below.