BEING KIND TO DIFFICULT PEOPLE -- You're doing this wrong.
There's a lot of finger wagging going around right now.
"You should do this!" "You should do that." "Why aren't you out at the protests?" "Why are those kids protesting?"
"If you don't post these three words on your timeline, you're a racist." "You should read this book." "You should listen to this." "Oh, obviously, you didn't read this right."
Now, I'm pretty used to being judged. I'm very used to not fitting in. But the finger wagging makes me want to scream.
Here's the thing: There's a lot of shame going around.
We're ashamed of doing too little or doing too much. We're ashamed of what we know. We're ashamed of what we didn't know. We can't talk about racism now because in the past we used whitening creams or dated that guy or said that stupid thing or forwarded that meme or...
A lot of people would say that we should be ashamed. After all, knowingly or unknowingly, we benefit from systematic racism..
But here's the problem -- shame stops us from acting.
No one ever did anything because they had a finger wagged at them. As soon as the "should" word comes out, people shut down.
The world doesn't need your shame. The world needs your action -- fundamental or extraordinary.
(Okay breathe. Take another breath. Let's continue.)
Here's a truth -- those who are wagging their fingers are not talking to you or about you. They are talking about themselves. They feel ashamed so they vent those feelings by judging you.
Now certainly, you can respond with a finger of your own.
Or you can kindly realize that this is a person in extraordinary pain.
By judging you, they are leaking off their own guilt, fear, and shame. Is it right? Of course not.
But it is human.
We all grow at our own pace. We've all done stupid, thoughtless things that we feel ashamed of. Venting your shame onto others is not a healthy way to grow.
We cannot change the judgers and finger waggers. We can only change ourselves. But how?
In order to move out of shame and into action, we must learn to forgive ourselves. It's okay to not know something. It's not okay to refuse to learn.
As Maya Angelou said to Oprah, "When you know better, you do better."
This can either be a time of great shame or a time of great learning. It's up to you to determine what it will be for you.
Will you stay in a state of shame and blame?
Or will you grow and learn?
The more you move out of your own shame, the more you'll be able to be kind to those who are in great pain.
Have you experienced a lot of judging and finger wagging? How do you react?