I started to write this blog post after a good friend and I had a conversation about ISMS – racism, sexism, classism, hatred of homosexuals, etc. She talked about the fact that we all have ISMS. We all have points of view we were taught or developed as young people which give rise to treating people differently because of who they are. Some of us never see them, or we believe they are correct and that we should continue to embrace these points of view. Some of us strive to see the ISMS we have and try to learn more about them and consciously cut them out of our lives. Or at least stop and think and not use them to treat others differently or spread hate.
During this conversation I mentioned that she and I are also lucky to have friends who call us out on our bullshit. Which she agreed to wholeheartedly.
Let me say that again. I am lucky to have good friends, who believe the same way I do and who know my heart enough to say “dude, that’s not ok, in fact, that’s pretty downright disappointing. I expect more.” Because you know what? I expect more from myself too. Sometimes we don’t see the little prejudices we have. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are being a big fat jerk. Having friends and family that love you enough to tell you that, because they KNOW you want to do better, THAT is a gift.
So then something happened last night that has left my heart hurting a little. And I felt I needed to finish this blog.
When I call my friends or family out on stuff, it’s not because I want to hurt them or I want to make them feel like they are jerks, or I want them to be all upset with themselves and feel guilty. It’s not because I am attacking them. It’s not because I think I am better than them. It’s not because I don’t ever do the same types of things. Cause I do. I do.
I call my friends and family out on stuff because I want my friends and family to do the same. Because I feel relationships in which people are honest with themselves and in which people care enough to help each other or want to help each other improve creates a better society.
I always think about the suffragettes or the civil rights activists – if they hadn’t found each other, hadn’t talked to each other, hadn’t realized that telling each other “dude, that’s not ok” HELPS their cause, they would have gotten no where.
Here comes the problem – there are times when it’s appropriate to call people out on stuff. There are times when it may not be. There are times when saying “I don’t agree, I think that is wrong” will get you exactly no where. There are times when it will hurt the relationship more than it helps. There are times when people will get angry and be hurt and that doesn’t necessarily help anyone. There are times when people will get angry and distance themselves – because no one wants to be told we are wrong, that’s the nature of humans – but they will look back and realize there might be something to it. There are times when you have discussed the topic with someone you truly love and you know you will never feel differently about it, and neither will they. And so, to protect that relationship you have to learn to avoid that topic. You don’t compromise how you feel, but you just don’t talk about it with that person.
There are times when losing the relationship is worth telling your truth. Like when someone is being hurt physically, when someone needs your help desperately, when it’s just the human thing to do. There are times when standing up for what you believe is worth any consequence.
You have to be the one to make those decisions.
So, if I say something that feels like it’s embarrassing you, or making you feel like a jerk, or feels like I am saying you are wrong, please know that even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, I am doing it because I love you. I don’t put that much energy into people I don’t love. Trust me.