This last week was a lot. I know you know. We started off with Valentine’s Day (which could be a high or a low, depending on how it went down), we celebrated athletes coming together from around the world to inspire us all, and we witnessed a national tragedy. All the things.
When humans hurt other humans, the first place I go is grief. Remember how Mister Rogers taught us to look for the helpers? Well, before my head can get to the helpers, my heart goes to the hurting.
Then—I am embarrassed to admit this, but it is true—my gut wants to start dividing the world up into two groups: the people who think the same way I think, and the idiots.
My gut, in other words, goes straight to Us-vs.-Them.
You guys, I don’t even believe in “us” and “them.” There’s only us, all of us. We’re all in this together. I know this. But it takes me a minute to remember.
If my own window into the internet is any indication, I’m not the only one who goes there. (“You’re an idiot” may be the comment I’ve seen most on Facebook this week, leveled at people on all sides of every debate.)
It’s a defense mechanism.
When we’re angry and afraid, either/or feels like a safe place to be.
We fall into thinking, Either you’re with us, or you’re against us. Either you’re part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem. Or put another way: Either you think what I think, or you are wrong.
This is not actually true, and it’s not even helpful.
So this week, soul care is going to look like sitting with the BOTH/AND.
I can send thoughts and prayers, AND I can expect and demand that thoughts turn into action.
We can talk about protecting the rights of responsible adults, AND we can talk about protecting the lives of children in their classrooms. We can remember that we have rights AND we have responsibilities.
We can believe that the US has a mental health problem AND a gun problem AND a whole lot of other problems at the same time. All can be true. Addressing one does not mean ignoring the others. If you think one is more pressing, figure out how you’re going to help with that one first.
I can believe I am right, AND I can understand there are places I may be wrong, at the same time.
I trust that my opinions are valid, AND I am willing to listen to other points of view.
Brené Brown calls this speaking truth to bullshit.
Because… that’s what either/or thinking is. Either/or means we stay locked in argument, never coming together, never making change. I’m done with that.
So that is our work. Not to get sucked in to the either/or, but to stay open to the both/and as we listen to one another and decide how to move forward together.
And by the way, when someone ELSE is stuck in either/or arguments, you don’t have to agree to engage on those terms. You can invite them in to the both/and, and let them know the invitation will still be open when they’re ready to join you.
This isn’t about left and right, guys.
This is about showing up, listening well, and being love in the world.
I love you guys. I’m listening.