Sticks and Stones

If you review any media lately you are likely to come to the conclusion that this world has gone totally mad. That it has lost its ever-loving mind. That it is completely off its rocker.

The level of conflict appears to be intensifying. Name calling and label hurling appears to be increasing. Some people appear fiercely angry. Others appear stressed over the conflict and some even afraid.

What to do? What to do?

I learned early that conflict is a part of life, and I will propose to you that it is actually a very healthy part of life. Conflict precedes resolution, i.e. change. If not externally, then certainly internally.

Name calling has just become a way of life for some. Lo and behold, this is nothing new.

I personally am an observer. I’m not generally one to strike up conversations with others just for the fun of it.  Because of this reserved nature, as a teen, I was often labeled as a snob (It starts early, folks).

You go to church and you learn you’re a sinner (in the top three of worst labels).

If my argument has merit I am often labeled as arrogant.

If I decline an invitation it is presumed the reason is I feel as if I am better than someone else. Labels of superiority.

If I don’t give in to someone’s demand or if I stay steadfast in my position, I’m labeled as a bitch.

If I don’t provide free legal services, or give to certain charities, I’m labeled as uncaring or not a Christian.

If I believe in God I’m labeled as a backwards redneck.

If I voted for Trump I’m uneducated.

If I voted for Hilary (I can assure you I didn’t, but if I did…) I am labeled as a feminist.

If I lean-to the right of the current political environment, I’m labeled as a racist and benefactor of white privilege (also in the top three of worst labels and absolutely ridiculous, I might add).

My point being, name calling isn’t new. So why then the fear to stand up and speak out? You get introduced to name calling at a young age and it occurs frequently throughout your lifetime. Some to your face, some behind your back, and some just by vague social or organizational generalities.

We are taught conflict is bad. And because of this, we learn to avoid it. We avoid certain people, certain conversations, certain topics. We avoid expressing our beliefs, our thoughts, our opinions. All because somewhere, someone might disagree, or worse yet, might be offended, or worse, worse yet, might just call us a hurtful name or slap us with some unbecoming label in return.

Conflict can actually be very healthy. Conflict teaches us skills for resolution. It airs grievances and puts a voice to various opposing doctrines and opinions. It teaches us, or assists us, in reaffirmation of who we are, what we believe in, and what it is we are willing to stand up for and not compromise… personal values.

Stating your opinion, your values, or your ideas does not mean you have to argue.  To the contrary, in fact.

It doesn’t mean you have to “change someone else’s mind.” I can assure you this rarely happens, so why on earth would you spend the energy?

You don’t have to have a winner and a loser. I am competitive as hell. I’d much rather fly the “W” every day of the week. But, there are times (many, many times) when different (thinking different, living different, being different) is perfectly okay.

It is not the actual name calling in and of itself that hurts and causes us pain, but yet it is how we internalize the name or label and whether or not we accept it as a truth that governs our life.

People live out their perceptions. Their perceptions don’t have to be your truths.  You don’t have to accept it or internalize it as true. It is their perception. Their perceptions don’t have to govern your life. Just because they choose to live it out in their lives doesn’t mean you have to live it out in yours. Sticks and stones, baby. Just sticks and stones…

There is no reason to be afraid of conflict. Know who you are. Find your voice. Stand your ground. Live out your own truths.

 

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