Why Our #1 Freedom is Speech - and How We're Killing it and Relationships by Causing Political Masking
Free speech. We learn about it early on as American kids. We believe it to be our birthright.
Even while being taught about free speech, some kids take it a step too far.
If another kid says something they don't like, that kid might be teased, ridiculed, called names, or ostracized. It can be a brutal world, and for those who don't conform or play along with the bullies, they may learn what it is to be an outcast.
In recent years, it seems that this scenario plays out more and more frequently in the adult world, as well. This behavior has become the norm in some circle, and is seen as acceptable..
It's ironic that those who talk loudest about our freedoms, including free speech, are often the same ones who use it to denigrate people who hold opposite views to theirs.
Adult bullying at its best.
People who are normally sane, rational, intelligent, responsible, and compassionate - and are often people who I otherwise admire, respect, and like - lower the standards for their own behavior, especially when it comes to the topic of politics.
It doesn't serve them or anyone around them well.
As I mentioned in my video blog last week, people confide in me. They trust me to keep a confidence, and of course, I do. These days, I hear from people who feel they have to mask who they are politically. They do this because the people in their various tribes who speak loudest, make it clear what they think of those who hold differing views.
The shocking part of this scenario is that the unwitting bullies are often their closest relationships: their spouses, family members and friends, fellow church goers, and workplace colleagues.
For this reason, the masking ruse can extend to hardcore political activists. Surprisingly, some political party members don't agree with the party they outwardly support, but keep up the facade to please family members or friends who they fear would ostracize them if they switched to the other party, or left politics altogether..
It shouldn't be this way. We're better than this - aren't we? Politics are not a game to be played out in relationships.
How we voice our political views comes down to values. A question to ask might be: "Do I place more value on being right or being in relationship?"
Politics - such as they are these days - are a natural repellent for me. Nonetheless, I'm all for great political discussion, including heated talk, with smart, well-informed, passionate players. It's what our country was founded on, and we still need it to happen today.
It's when the talk turns to belittlement that I tune out. I'm not alone.
A lot of politicians throw around the phrase silent majority and use it to define who they say supports them.
I'd say the real silent majority is the bulk of Americans. They (i.e. we) are middle of the road politically, and don't care to be associated with either party, or only marginally. We prefer to think for ourselves rather than have people with agendas tell us how we should think and vote.
I'm happily unaffiliated. In so many ways.
I like it that way, and I resent living in a state that forces me to pick a party in order to vote. Sometimes it's hard to know which is the lesser of two evils. In any case, I've rarely, if ever, voted a straight ticket. Mine is most often intentionally split. Maybe that's the sadist in me.
I'm in a season right now where I'm largely un-tribed. It's an interesting and unique place to be, and it's allowed me to observe the world around me in a more objective way. Few or no influencers, or influencing groups, play a part in my life at this time. It's a rare thing to get to be independent of all others, and I'm taking notes as I go.
I'm free to think however I choose. No one tells me I'm wrong, or expects me to tow the party line. Yes, it's glorious.
I'm too much of an independent spirit to be told by a political party, a church, a workplace or organization, or family members or friends, how I should think. Yet others often assume they must know my political stance because of a single fact they know about me.
A person's views politically, can not, and should not, be assumed based on their background or demographics. Throughout my life, I've often been at odds with any tribe I've otherwise belonged to because I don't buy into conformity.
I'm not a fan of group think. You probably already figured that out.
I've come to see group think as only being of benefit for short-durationed projects and causes. My makeup seems to be more Millennial-based than Boomer-based. Maybe political parties are in for more problems than they realize in coming decades as Millennials age-up. They're not joiners. And I seldom am anymore, either.
I've been used to being an outcast throughout my life, for many reasons. I don't typically or cleanly fit any tribe or demographic, and I'm okay with that. But most people are not.
Most are good people, but in order not to be cast out from their tribe, they feel the need to lie to their families, spouses, parents, kids, friends, and everyone else in their lives. They mask themselves politically. Their own loved ones don't really know them as they think they do.
How sad is that? Over politics. Seriously. Let's get some lives, people.
My hope is to encourage people to think about how their loudly voiced opinions unknowingly affect those around them, including their closest loved ones.
My hope is to encourage the true silent majority to speak up when confronted by political bullying. Don't worry; you'll have voices who join you. Be the brave one who begins.
My hope is that bullying has an age limit, and that as kids become adults, they outgrow it - even if their parents haven't.
If we can't find it in ourselves to respect each other enough to allow for the free speech we claim we love and cherish, we may cause our own demise as a country.
And that's exactly what we'd deserve.
Land of the free. Home of the brave.
But only for those who use their freedom of speech to speak the same as us politically.
About Kris Harty: Kris is founder and CEO of shortCHICK, llc, She helps smart people like you move from overwhelm and obstacles, to over it and moving on, in life and work, Step by Step. She's a speaker, author, podcaster, and creative, giving voice to hope, joy, encouragement, and wisdom.
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