• The Grey Squirrel

Hurt People Hurt Others...And Themselves

Lord help me, I am a Republican. I have a list of reasons why I am a Republican, but that is

a post for another time. I've actually started referring to myself as a DR, Disenchanted Republican, like a unicorn that's lost its mojo but can still stab you with it's rainbow horn.

I have a lot of Democrat friends. I mean, I came to politics through theater, not exactly a hotbed of conservatism. They like me because A) I give them a Republican friend (yep, I've been told more than once that I am some folks' ONLY Republican friend), and B) I am no fan of the President(this is what makes some of my Republican friends question my convictions).

The number one thing that I do to piss these friends off, other than not become a Democrat (that goes for my Republican and Democrat friends), is to point out that Democrats are as responsible for Trump as the Republicans. This statement is usually followed by a lot of pearl clutching, smelling salts, and vehement protests. Usually, the conversation doesn't get much beyond that because there is a string of excuses and justifications as to why I could not be more wrong, and I rarely get to lay out my case for why both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the state of our country right now.

Hurt people hurt people.

That's it. That's what's wrong with our country. We are in a hurtful relationship with ourselves. Each side is trying to seek retaliation for the wounds inflicted by the other side. Republicans are lashing out at Democrats for calling them stupid, ignorant, racists. Democrats are lashing out at Republicans for saying they hate America and want to kill babies and turn everyone gay.

Take a look at your Facebook newsfeed and how you and others refer to people of the other party: stupid, dangerous, cruel, hateful, ignorant, ect. Mind you, I didn't say that if you are Democrat you should do this or if you are a Republican you should do this, because I see it from both sides. We are awful to each other, on both sides.

Hurt people hurt people.

We justify our anger and our words by pointing to what the other has done. But, like the Bible says in Matthew 7:3-5, we are so concerned with the speck in the other party's eye that we can't see the plank in our own. We know that we are right, and to be right they have to be wrong. Maybe they are, but maybe you are. Or maybe it's that no one is actually talking about the real problem. That is a second level discussion, and we never get there because we're so concerned with tearing the other down. Hurt people hurt people.

American author, Carlos Castaneda, said, “What weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.” We value our offense; we are addicted to it. The more offended we are by the other, the better we feel about ourselves. We are good precisely because they are bad. It goes both ways. So if Democrats want to feel better about themselves, they hate harder on Republicans. If Republicans want to feel better about themselves, they hate harder on Democrats. With each offense we get to strike back and get that jolt of being better than. It's a potent drug, and our leaders know and exploit it.

Hurt people hurt people.

I can hear people say, "But Kris, did you hear what they said about us? They called us ________. They want to hurt people with their _________. They are taking away our rights to __________. We have to stop them!" I left the blanks because both sides use the same argument just with different words. Neither side stops to think why the other sees it that way. On the Right, nobody stops to ask why people are kneeling during the National Anthem, they jump to offense. On the Left, nobody stops to ask why people want to stop undocumented boarder crossings, they jump to offense. Those are just two examples, but I could list dozens and each side would be able to retort with the same insults about the other. The problem with that leap is that we never deal with the root cause of each other's concerns, and the anger just feeds itself. We don't deal with a skewed criminal justice system that is causing tremendous fear in our minority communities. We don't deal with a changing economy that is causing tremendous fear in our former industrial centers. We don't deal with people as fearful because that is vulnerable. Anger is safer.

Hurt people hurt people.

I don't have an answer, but Carlos Castaneda advised, "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." We can watch our language. We can acknowledge our own wounds. We can respond and not react. We can ask why. We can listen to the answer.

It's not easy or fun or quick. It is a lot of work, and no one person can do it alone. But you can do it with one person. Just one. Just treat one person as hurt and respond as such. Then maybe they won't feel so hurt, and they'll do it with one person and one more and one more. This doesn't mean we have to agree, but we do have to listen and promise not to hurt.

We are each going to have to be vulnerable. We are each going to have to be willing to give. We are each going to have to change.

When someone says something call it what it is: hurt. Resist the urge to hurt back. Stop the cycle because hurt people often hurt themselves.

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