I’ve become increasingly concerned about the violence (including verbal violence) being reported from Trump rallies. The fact that many of the incidents seem to have a strong racial or ethnic component is especially troubling to me.
My family and friends are a beautiful array of people from different backgrounds, countries, ethnicities and beliefs. My values don’t let me stand by when some of them are being targeted or bullied.
So when I found out that some friends were going to attend a local rally in the name of peace, I was eager to go with them.
I’ve worked for a long time to cultivate my inner peace and strength – a path that hasn’t always felt peaceful or strong. To be honest, I wanted to see how I would do in that situation. I wondered if I would be able to maintain my own peace or if I would get swept up in what was going on around me.
Also, after all the reports I’d seen going around, I also wanted to see for myself what was happening and hear what was being said.
As I sat in my car in the parking lot before the rally, I centered myself and made the commitment to see each person as a person, not a label. Not “a Trump supporter” or “a Trump protester” or whatever, but a person worthy of respect.
At the Rally
The intensity of the anger, fear and hurt was more than I’d expected. And it wasn’t all on the side of the Trump supporters.
Things were quiet enough when I got there and for the first hour or so we were in line. Then, as the time ticked on, the tension increased.
The rumblings got louder and more frequent. There was more of a sense of “us” and “them”.
Supporters were saying that the college students needed to stop being lazy and get a job. Protesters voiced outrage at comments about Mexicans and other immigrants.
The energy it took for me to stay centered AND present was huge. At times I felt like a small drop in a big, tumultuous ocean. I was exhausted by the time I left 4.5 hours later.
The line to get in the auditorium was incredibly long and they closed the doors when we were about 60 people away. I went and stood with the protesters, feeling both disappointed and relieved.
What I took away from the experience was this:
- Everyone there thought they were right. And no one really wanted to listen to any other viewpoint. While I heard a lot of opinions being shared, the only listening seemed to be people listening to people they already agreed with.
- There was a huge amount of anger and fear there. People who lash out at others are, at the core, scared. No one who feels safe and at peace in themselves needs to strike out at others.I read an article about the rally by Michael M. Barrick in which he said that people on both sides were “aching for peace in such a way that only anger and outrage could express it.” Very well said.Setting boundaries and letting people know when you’re upset is necessary. Calling names, being rude and saying hurtful things is not. No one who feels good about themselves does that kind of thing. They have no reason to.
- I don’t want to live in a world – or country – that’s ruled by fear. Being scared and believing you’re right doesn’t excuse bullying others, no matter who you support.I wish I had all the answers. Truly I do. I promise I’d share them if I did.I feel scared sometimes. Sometimes I worry. I have times when I feel defensive and angry. But being stuck there only leads to more problems.When all you can see is the stuff that angers and upsets you, it’s worth asking if it’s possible that it’s because of the lens you’re looking through.
- Anger is contagious. I found my own anger and fear start to rise as I listened to the people around me.I had to breathe deeply, have compassion for myself in the midst of all that, and to over and over again make the conscious decision to love.Anger is a legitimate and powerful emotion that serves an important purpose. It can catalyze us into action like nothing else can. It can give us the courage to stand up for ourselves when our boundaries are crossed.When we’re stuck in it though, we start crossing others’ boundaries. We go beyond what’s healthy and necessary and into bullying and worse. It’s called blind rage for a reason.
- Love, respect and kindness matter. Will we always agree? No. Do we sometimes need to say things that aren’t popular, that may even offend or anger other people? Yes. And still we can do it with respect for the other person.
People who are very dear to me have opposite political views from mine. That’s fine. It creates balance. If we were all alike and agreed on everything, the world would be in big trouble.To move ahead, though, we need to not see each other as the enemy. We need to listen to each other and take the best of the ideas presented in a co-creative mix that’s better than either side can come up with on their own.But to do this, we have to have civility. We have to be calm enough to hear each other.
What does all this have to do with you and your business? A lot.
It’s worth taking the temperature of your business. Do you operate out of fear or hope? What’s the underlying energy in you and your marketing?
Does taking a stand for what you believe, for your business and the results you give scare you?
When you run your business from a place of strength, courage and commitment, clients are drawn to you, people trust you and you’re more effective in your work. And life is more fun and exciting.