A lot of blogs that I write sound too detached.
Like I, Jordan, consider myself simply a messenger of some higher truth. My sin is that I write less about how I feel - they're not confessional - and more about what I believe everyone should already realize - so didactic.
This post is not written by “The Reindeer Club.” It’s written by Jordan.
I’ve completely rewritten this a couple times. I know that’s cliched to say. God, saying I know something is a cliche is a cliche too, right? But there’s something I want to try to express. Something… nuanced. And nuance is hard.
I wanted to talk about how crazy political discourse is in the middle of election season. I wanted to talk about how to engage people that we dramatically disagree with.
One draft of the blog made it sound like I was telling people that their experience and pain didn’t matter - that you needed (and in this draft I said “we needed” but it was obvious that I was lecturing) to be better at listening to people you disagreed with. Creating an echo chamber is unhealthy and unproductive, I wanted to say. But the implication of that? That anyone should ever just sit and listen to some latent racist, or whatever, express their hateful thoughts.... That’s untenable.
One draft was heavier on “speak truth to power.” I was really hammering that issues do matter, and if we want (but what I meant was "if you want" - again, so didactic), to make a difference, we (you) need to learn to express ideas in ways that compel others to believe them too, not just treat them as an enemy. But that draft still was invalidating of people’s right to be angry and express that anger.
One draft validated anger and passion and your right to speak your own truth. But how do you say that and still say that the people you see as your enemy are humans too? They’re idiots, probably, and dead wrong, but humans nonetheless - who don’t necessarily have any right to their terrible, harmful opinions, but nevertheless (I have to, choose to believe), can still be convinced of the error of their ways.
[I'm a person - a white, straight, guy person - who still speaks out of ignorance and privilege often. FOR INSTANCE, it is a privilege to write such a self indulgent and pitying post and arrogantly believe that other people will care. I have to believe that there is hope for others to be good so that I can believe that there's hope for me to be good too.]
I wanted to make a plea for discourse. To challenge others (to challenge myself) to somehow balance both speaking and listening. To not let one compromise the other. To do both with gusto.
But I don’t know how to do that. This year on Facebook, I have both unfriended people I disagreed with, and been unfriended by people I tried to engage.
Embracing that speaking/listening paradox sounds like an ideal. But I don’t know how to do it myself. How could I convince anyone else to do it either?
So this is all I have. It’s not the post I wanted to write. It’s a post about the post I wanted to write.
If I ever figure out how to write it, I’ll let you know, but I hope this suffices for now.
photo by NASA.