Someone I was developing a deep bond with recently shared some extremely controversial views on the subjects of rape, incest, children engaging in sexual activities with adults, etc. I found it deeply disturbing, to say the least. She shared her views in a private forum and the community went berserk. While no one directly subscribed to her views, there was much debate on the validity of her stance, her motivation behind sharing her thoughts, whether she should be allowed to express whatever she had at all, whether the community leaders were silently approving her views by not jumping into the discussion, etc.
The shit hit the fan yesterday, though, with people clamouring for the community leaders to speak up. Emotions were raging high and some ugly words were exchanged. I watched it all, aghast, because this community is important to me and it broke my heart to see it crumble in front of my eyes. I feared that some members would be kicked out, going by their responses on the thread. I thought the community leaders weren’t handling the thread very well and had allowed it to get out of hand. It seemed like the community manager herself was getting drawn into the drama of it all because she had some opinions of her own and wasn’t really able to keep a neutral or a cool-headed stance. In any case, it was a proper shitshow.
This morning, I felt weird. I had opinions of my own; I had listened to the opinions of a dozen others. I had borne witness to a massive shitshow. Who was right? Who was wrong? Was there even a right opinion?
Almost synchronistically, my dear friend Allysia sent me a message then. She asked me to think about what my growth challenge was here. Why did I invest so much in this and what core values had been violated?
I found that there were several growth challenges for me here. The first and foremost was to recognize my stance. To separate out my own views from that of others. Some demonized her while others thought that she was entitled to her viewpoint. My own stance, I realised, was to disagree with her but also have a spot of compassion. I could disagree without writing a person off completely. I could disagree while not feeling hateful. I could disagree while knowing that to err is human.
The second growth challenge was to voice my stance to this person whose views I didn’t remotely agree with. But to do so in a compassionate way. The truth was that I had connected with her deeply and she was someone I liked, even though I didn’t subscribe to her thought process. I had her best interests at heart and from my vantage point, in her hope to spread love and light, she’d strayed in an enormously misguided direction. One that considered only one point of view and ignored the rest as well as solid science.
My third growth challenge was to own my voice and actions. So long as I believed that my thoughts and course of action were right, it didn’t matter what others thought about them. While I would be open to listening to others’ opinions, I’d trust the conclusions I came to and own them.
As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true”.