Respectful Summer Get Togethers

Photo by Moldy Vintages on Pexels.com

Messages that feel like commands – even good advice coming from a friend- aren’t always received well. If you feel like you’re being pushed into a corner, you’re more likely to push back.

Elena Renken

Most stories being told around the world right now seem to share several common distressing themes. Inflation and what is driving it. The war in Ukraine. The Pope’s apology to Canadian residential school survivors. Heat waves creating unbearable conditions in parts of the world that normally don’t have them. Fires, droughts, floods all predictable as a result of our continued environmental destruction.

And then the predictable debates about who, what, and how we should address climate action.

Affordable housing crisis, food insecurity, moving into a recession, extraordinary gas prices, and of course the ever present supply chain issues. Gun violence. School shootings. Grocery store shootings. Mall shootings. Continued anger about Covid vaccine mandates and the odd, lingering protest about public health guidelines. Populist political bullying, dismantling women’s right to choose, coupled with a full on attack on “woke” culture.

And you’ll never guess who’s back delivering mayhem and ridiculous soundbites cause he got raided by the FBI?

The stories we are telling each other range from angry conflict that sometimes disintegrates into outright chaos all the way to a senseless war across the ocean. This polarizing rhetoric gains traction as people are not feeling heard and from dangerous people who then take license to impose their will through bullying behaviour or use of force.

When did we stop listening to each other. Agreeing to disagree. Respecting democratic institutions that we have taken pride in building. Collectively. Collaboratively. It seems so far away from the world I thought I knew. Disenfranchised people whose demands across social media are no longer about civil society but about individuals rights and freedoms.

What does that actually mean? When I hear the word freedom right now, I know my personal definition can’t be similar to fellow Canadians who decided to disrupt and destroy the narrative most familiar to me. Horns blaring because Freedom. My freedom trumps yours.

How do I listen to their stories and really hear them?

Would anything make it easier for them to hear my stories?

All stories matter and have the potential to shape attitudes that colour our views on relationships, politics, and our society. But they have little meaning when we stop listening to one another. And when we also stop caring about the importance of the stories that each of us needs to tell.

It seems bizarre that at a time when we need to come together to address so many challenges that we keep moving far apart.

But there are glimmers of hope. Right?

I can’t help but remain hopeful that the celebrations we have this summer have mostly remained respectful of the stories that each one of us carries in our hearts. No matter how different it seems from our value base and moral codes.

We have a long ways to go but if we all learn to listen a little more, we just might make the upcoming fall and winter a different story than the one told last year.

Stay happy and safe this summer!

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