The news is addictive. Observing the reactivity to the current president and his machinations are prime addiction material – there’s always something going on – something about which to Take Offense.
I come from a family where drama flows in the bloodstream. I think most families have in their DNA some form of drama – with tendrils in various arenas: politics, religion, money, philosophy, Chevrolet vs Ford, Cool Whip vs Redi-Whip – fill in the blank.
When talking with my family, one can usually anticipate a dramatic encounter. Regardless of topic, a position of having Taken Offense will already be present prior to engaging in a discussion with someone believed to hold a differing position. The ‘conversation’ will be one-sided and decided.
This, in actuality, is an adversarial exchange – a masquerade of true relationship. But there IS drama – energizing, never-ending drama.
For me, aging provides some ability to pause when new information comes in as my processing is slower. Blessedly, with that slow-down, it takes a while to get spooled up for the drama, and frequently the moment passes for an extreme reaction.
The New York Time’s Daily Podcast for 8-22-17 was an intriguing look into the drama of a former White Nationalist’s family relationship. But there was something more interesting in the interview that has tendrils in the drama our Nation is currently experiencing, and that the therapist in me found astonishing:
The White Nationalist Party’s reaction to the election of Barak Obama was the mirror image to the Liberal’s unfolding reaction to the election of Donald Trump.
In fact, if you are able to blot out the references to party and candidate names, you might be hard pressed to identify which group’s reactions you were overhearing.
Would you concede that fellow Americans are family as we consider the current divisive situations? If so, then as a divided family, we again confront the multitudinous arenas in which we disagree. To be successful in resolving any issues, we must be willing to abandon the energy of and our addiction to the drama. We must demonstrate less reactivity, outrage, and disgust – in short, we must not Take Offense.
What we must consider is how to demonstrate responsiveness with listening, processing, asking and thinking – which is a quieter, more measured, less offensive, albeit a riskier posture. Riskier, because here is no guarantee such an exchange can happen. ALL must participate in a posture that encourages exchange of views and promotes some semblance of humility, which is where learning about each other can take place. This is where and how relationship happens. And it is within relationship that we have the ability to resolve our differences.
The drama is not helpful.
If those of us on ANY side continue to engage in accusing, blaming, bludgeoning, shaming and hating – which manifests in the immediate reaction of having Taken Offense – we will not, and cannot, hear the depth of the other’s pain, nor can we share our own pain: we will have both already decided that the other is wrong.
While that makes for good and juicy drama, it destroys not only the possibility of relationship but also any hope for change.