When I spar with a boxing partner, we’re careful to wrap our wrists, and to glove-up because, while we are indeed “fighting” and hoping to “win,” we have no desire to actually hurt each other or ourselves. We have respect for one another–and for the sport–and we desire to bring honor to our power.
As I scroll through social media, I continue to be amazed by our willingness to pull off the proverbial gloves there, and beat our political sparring partners over the head with our beliefs. (See five phrases that indicate your gloves are off here.)
The result is rarely one of victory in that neither partner changes her/his mind or leaves the “fight” enlightened or inspired. We walk away bloodied and angry, raring to go for the next knock-down-drag-out.
I struggle to make sense of this. Surely we are smart enough to focus on the fact that victory is defined by a successful exchange of ideas, by persuading or being persuaded, and surely we are humble enough to realize that we may be missing some perspective embodied by our “opponent’s” worldview.
And surely we can operate from a place of respect for Other.
And perhaps most important is the notion of honoring our power. I’m a big guy. I can beat the heck out of someone, knock down doors, and cause all sorts of damage. But how much wiser it is if I use my strength to build-up rather than to tear-down. To empower rather than to destroy.
Now, I have been sincere when I use the term “we” above. I have occasionally been guilty of replying to an online post with my proverbial gloves off. But I have made great effort to remember to glove-up before I enter the ring of modern social discourse.
That in mind, I particularly like this insight from Sally Kohn:
For decades, we have been focused on political correctness but what matters more is emotional correctness… Emotional correctness is the tone–the feeling–how we say what we say, the respect and compassion we show one another. What I have realized is that political persuasion begins with being emotionally correct… We spend so much time talking past each other, and not enough time talking through our disagreements. If we can start to find compassion for one another, then we have a shot at building common ground. Our challenge is to find the compassion for others that we want them to have for us. THAT is emotional correctness… And that’s how we start the conversations that really lead to change.
So, please do NOT give up the fight, just put the gloves back on, and let’s get ready to rumble. #TotallyMilkedThatMetaphor