Friday, November 11, 2016

Day Two and the work is hard

In following my commitment today, I engaged with family on Facebook. Family who posted one line comments that seemed to follow the pattern of seeking to end any dialogue. I opened my question machine and asked for explanation on two posts from family, and to stand up in a conversation that was clearly attacking students who are understandably having difficulty processing the election outcomes. My words worked hard to be clear that I myself didn't mean to antagonize, but rather I was seeking to understand more about the comment, what it truly meant and from where it was coming. And I let a couple of comments go.

The first exchange went well. It pulled some conversation with a cousin of my husband's that hadn't happened in a long time. And he even asked in detail how we were doing in our region of the US-- meaning us literally, my husband and I. A later request from me for clarification from an aunt on the east coast went unanswered. It was a post shared, with no individual commentary on it. I have no idea what her meaning was. Did she agree? Did she disagree? I'm seeing mixed "Likes" from her and it's getting cloudy. The third exchange in response to a friend's question on a post to his wall also went unanswered, I think. I posted my observations of the protests and grieving happening on campuses much like they are on the campus of My Place Of Work (MPOW). These students don't need to grow up. They need to be permitted to process what they're feeling and learn. Student protest is a form of learning. They are bringing their emotions and fears to public for support and conversation.

After a long day, I started letting things go. I didn't have the time or energy to respond responsibly, and so I stopped. I really stopped after seeing this post from the cousin first mentioned above, and it was captioned, "LOL" by the cousin:

I wanted to post and share with this cousin that the protests, and those expressing their anger, "hate" and other emotions only want to be understood. That it is all of our business to take a moment and hear what's going on. Then I wondered if he personally encountered anyone who was expressing anger and hate, or only was responding based on what is happening elsewhere, and is being shown in the media or through links in social media.

It's very different when hearing someone captured in media, popular, social or otherwise, who is expressing emotions versus hearing it face-to-face or knowing someone who has been attacked themselves or is part of an publicly marginalized population that has been singled out in some way during the presidential campaign season. Because many candidates were not held accountable for the details of their sweeping comments about immigration, gun control, pro-life positions, medical care plans, promisers for sweeping reforms of executive orders and other platform or positions, much room for interpretation was left. Let me say that again: MUCH ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION WAS LEFT. So for those who have heard the promises from both sides, I get there is real fear and uncertainty, and we need to respect the need to process those feelings. Please don't judge.

Through observation, in recent years I have come to understand that I am a chronic "gap-filler." What do I mean by that? I hear statements from people, media and read things in print and will use my personal experience and knowledge to fill in the gaps of what isn't presented to me. I make assumptions, and I believe I do so in an educated manner. Often, I AM WRONG. So, let me close the loop on the purpose of my year of blogging my engagement with election result fallout. I am committed to pushing myself to understand what is happening around me, and will do this through asking questions and resisting the urge to fill in gaps. Where I cannot ask questions or do not get a response, I seek to find the information to fill those gaps in my knowledge honestly, to check facts and to not assume I know what's going on around me. Yes, I'm a librarian. I should be doing this anyway. No one is perfect.

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