“I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.” – Tennessee Williams
Compassion is the noble character strength of believing the pain someone else is enduring is real and that your empathy can help with the alienation that pain brings.
No matter who I vote for, that vote is a move against groups of people. I can assume that my vote is the best vote. I may assume that my values are the best values so my vote is the best vote. Thinking like that will help me deny the pain my vote will cause others. It will help me make fun of those people while they are hurting this week by saying they are being ridiculous, or silly, or babies.
Even if I have done my due diligence and assessed that the person I am voting for is the only choice I can make – in good conscience, it is a vote which alienates someone, somewhere. I think it is easy to say, “Not my problem.” That phrase works wonders to help a battered woman leave her abusive partner, but it can also be a statement of apathy about my effect on others. Apathy about the people we move against when we are moving for our own interests is a silent and powerful weapon.
My choices, even my best choices, may have a negative impact and that can be hard for me to comprehend. It is much more desirable to think that my best choices only help the country. The fear that some of my minority clients are feeling this week is real for them. It resurfaced this week because someone who talks like the people who have abused them, not just this year but for generations, was given the highest power over them.
That is frightening for someone who has always felt marginalized. But, that isn’t the thing which causes the most fear. The personal fear surfacing this week is more about the people who glossed over the hateful words because they weren’t directed at them. An absence of understanding that what is best for me is harmful to others has silently made it more acceptable for raging, shaming, and attacking, using the same hurtful words, from many new mouths.
A definition of verbal abuse (a form of emotional abuse) from Healthy Place, an online mental health resource, will help us remember what abuse sounds like. If more of us stop abusive language, even when it is not directed at us, we can elevate more than just ourselves. Please go to healthyplace.com to learn more about verbal abuse.
“Verbal abuse is the most common way to attempt to control the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of another human being. Controlling behaviors are designed to manipulate people into doing what the abuser wants them to do under the guise of love or respect or abject fear.” – www.healthyplace.com
One Thing to Do: In the book, An Adult Child’s Guide to What’s Normal, Friel & Friel give us a list of six steps for starting an abuse recovery process:
- Identify the wrongs that happened in childhood. (Abuse no one stopped)
- Have your feelings about those wrongs, don’t just talk about them.
- Embrace those feelings.
- Share those feeling with others, don’t just verbalize them.
- Make a decision about our relationship with the person/people who hurt us.
- Then we can begin to heal and forgive. Not before.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.