Our nation is reeling on the heels of Donald Trump being elected the next President of the United States. Those who voted for him are excited for a change and those who did not are terrified of the change he might bring. Those who did not vote for him believe he ran on a platform of exclusion and divisiveness. Those who did vote for him believe he’s the change this country needs. Since the election there have been reports of both peaceful and violent anti-Trump rallies
(http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/politics/election-results-reaction-streets/index.html), instances of Trump supporters defaming property with swastikas (http://buffalonews.com/2016/11/09/disturbing-acts-in-wellsville-at-canisius-college-follow-election-day/), and middle-school kids chanting, “Build a wall” and intimidating and taunting their Mexican-heritage classmates (http://abcnews.go.com/US/students-chant-build-wall-middle-school-cafeteria-day/story?id=43451771 and http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/donald-trump-build-wall-chants-school-kids-article-1.2596676). People on both sides are verbally attacking one another and each side feels justified in doing so.
What’s wrong with this picture? Why not verbally attack the “mis-informed,” the “bleeding heart liberals,” the “Christian fundamentalists,” the “uneducated,” the “low-life’s” and . . . the “other?” Why not? Why not meet fire with fire? If “they’re” going to contemptuously chant, “Build a wall,” to their Mexican-ancestry classmates, why not beat them up, say something even meaner back or make a plan to hurt them when no one’s watching? If the Hillary voters are inciting violence, why shouldn’t the Trump voters attack back? If the Trump followers are inciting violence, why the hell shouldn’t the non-Trump voters attack back? Doesn’t it make sense that we all stand up for ourselves? Isn’t it true that in order to be heard, sometimes we have to hit below the belt? Don’t we have to get LOUD, aggressive and intimidating in order to defend ourselves—after all, it’s just basic self-defense, right?
Wrong. Attacking others for attacking others leaves a nation wounded and bruised. There’s a saying that goes, “Hurt people, hurt people,” which, if true, means that the hurt never stops. We can’t profess to want a non-violent, peaceful, respectful world and then become violent (either physically, emotionally or both) the moment we’re hit with conflict or drastically opposing beliefs. If we are physically under attack—then of course by all means we need to physically protect ourselves—but that is not what’s happening.
Right now we have two camps of people, each adamantly defending their side. That in and of itself is fine—until it escalates to denigration, insults, violence and abuse. When you aggressively attack someone for aggressively attacking others, you’re being hypocritical. You’re either walking the walk or you’re not. There is no middle of the road. When you are not walking the walk, you are, in fact, equally at fault for the divisiveness and hatred you are so adamantly fighting against.
Violence, aggression, contempt, bullying and moving-in-power-over others breaks relationships, blocks connection and makes cooperation pretty much impossible. You cannot say you want a unified nation or a connected relationship or a healthy work environment and then be bullying, aggressive or verbally hurtful in them. Countries divide, marriages end and businesses fail in an atmosphere of rage, uncontrolled anger and hurtful interactions—regardless of whether those actions are inciting aggression or in response to aggression.
In marriages, in companies and in nations, if we don’t fight the urge to bully those we’re in conflict with, we will forever be in conflict. Standing up for ourselves, fighting for our beliefs and adamantly championing our rights, as well as the rights of others, does not require beating people into submission. Aggression and moving-in-power-over others are antiquated, dangerous models of power that have never—and will never— lead to unity, peace or connection. True power comes from within. It’s the ability to confidently speak our truth, consistently uphold our principles and ardently fighting for our deepest held beliefs, while holding the dignity of ALL human beings in our hearts and actions in how we do so. Anyone can yell, bully, mock or insult others, but only the strongest, most courageous and truly powerful can create the change they’re fervently looking for while honoring the dignity and humanity of those with whom they’re disagreeing. This takes skill. This takes an inner strength that few individuals possess—the most powerful and impactful strength of all—a Grounded Powerful Strength.
We don’t need insults, aggression, contempt or violence to resolve our conflicts. If anything these very tools we lean on to “win” inevitably destroy the very outcomes we’re trying to obtain. If we want true change, in the form of unity, peace, respect and equality, we need to change our power paradigm from one of power-over to one of power-from-within. Intimidation, bullying, degradation and contempt are not “powerful” or effective in the long-term. These responses to conflict are destroying marriages, businesses, our nation and our world. No one likes to be bullied—not by ISIS, not by a political leader, not by our bosses and not by our spouses. Hate begets more hate. Violence begets more violence and contempt begets more contempt—and it has since the beginning of time. Every bullied nation, bullied employee, and bullied spouse has their breaking point. EVERY ONE. Until we change our power paradigm and stop the hate, intimidation and bullying, we will continue to have broken nations, companies and marriages. Until we change our power paradigm and dare to go counter-culture, we will forever be a nation divided, a marriage on the brink or a company in turmoil.
Challenge: My challenge to each and every one of us is to RISE UP, STEP UP and STAND UP with grace, strength and compassion, NOT aggression, violence and contempt. Do this in your marriage, do this in your company and do this in your nation. STOP THE VIOLENCE.