Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Resolution - Listen More & Argue Better

Note: The initial draft of this was written the week following Donald Trump's inauguration.  

I am not alone when I say that since Donald Trump was elected President, my mind has been running circles. This is even more true in the last week, since his presidency has been made a harsh reality.

The United States has historically treated its people very differently, depending on identity and income level. The unequal levels of opportunity and protection that this country holds for its citizens are far from new, and the inequality is not new to my own range of knowledge.Yet, I have not been as active or proactive in combating inequality as I have the ability to be.

I hold an identity that often benefits me. I get the long end of the stick in many cases. I am white, cis-gendered, upper-middle class, able-bodied, for all intensive purposes straight, and college-educated, to begin. My identity is something I think about often. How do I contribute to a more equal world when who I am protects me against the negatives of this inequality? In fact, I am not only protected from many negatives, but I benefit from others experiencing them.

Listening is key, being open to criticism is key, and taking a step back from my narrow view of the world to absorb that of others is key. Yet all of these positive steps are in vain unless I consider them in my actions. This step can oftentimes be confusing and challenging.

Not only do I need to push myself to go through this process, but it is very important to me that I use my time and energy to encourage others to do the same. The problem is, I can be stubborn and passionate--personality traits that can be very useful when used correctly, but detrimental to a cause when used incorrectly. My emotions have often gotten in the way of arguments, and my stubbornness has made me seem unapproachable. Even if I am making a strong logical argument, the emotional exertion I exude is enough to turn people off. It makes sense; I wouldn't react well to that type of treatment either.

I have realized how important it is for me to take the fire I feel about social injustices and put it towards a product, as well as keep my emotions tame when discussing these issues with others. I have learned that asking questions can be the most productive way of challenging the opinions.

In the face of this election, I am making an effort to listen more, ask questions more, and stop going on tirades about the issues I care about. I must learn to communicate effectively, not just passionately.

My plan is to reach out to loved ones who have differing views than I, or more interaction with people who do, and ask them for their advice and their perspective. My immediate circle does not support the Trump agenda--be they republican, democrat, independent, libertarian. They do have different perspectives on why his agenda is harmful to our whole. I need to hear what they have to say, and shut up for a minute.

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