I’ve learned to keep my opinions to myself, and on most days I am successful at it, or at least I think I am. I live my life my way, you live yours as you see fit. For the most part, it works out just fine for all involved, no matter if you are a close friend or a casual acquaintance. We all have different life experiences to draw upon, with odd quirks that can either be entertaining or maddening to those around us. We all have different views on religion, with different levels of belief (or not) in a higher power governing our lives. Live and let live, you do your thing and I’ll do mine, let’s raise a glass and toast to our differences…and be kind along the way. That’s my philosophy, and it’s served me well over the years. Unless, of course, it’s election year. That is when I struggle. When someone is making life choices that only determine their own fate and surroundings, it truly is none of my business if it does not effect me or my loved ones. When that person (or a group of like minded people) are willing to vote for someone or something that will adversely effect my life, and they are ok with it, then I have an obligation (and a right) to speak my mind. For months now on a popular social media site, I’ve watched as others spoke their minds and posted their memes, most often with “facts” that are untrue, or at the very least greatly misquoted. The amount of frothy hatred that was appearing on my news feed was getting more than a little overwhelming, and I made the decision to not subject myself to what they were saying, even though in some cases, they were friends and sometimes family. One tap of a button allows me to not see the hatred, the racism, the bigotry and the outright lies that they themselves choose to believe. I cannot change what they allow to fill their lives, but I can choose to not let it drag me down on a daily basis.
The other day, I made a comment about how I had blocked another person from my news feed because I did not want to see their daily dose of misinformed hatred anymore. The mistake that I made was the wording that I had used. Many took offense that I had used the word “unfriend” instead of explaining in clearly needed simpler terms that I had only blocked their posts from appearing in my news feed. Hell fire rained upon me from all directions, and I have to admit, I was taken completely by surprise by the reaction from some people who follow my posts. One person wrote that they thought I was “better than that”, others wrote in great detail about how disappointed they were that I could pass judgement so easily on others, and that I was, in fact, the one that was now discriminating against others for their beliefs. It was clearly pointed out to me that I needed to stick to posting pictures of the garden, the dogs and the horses, as well as daily updates of how long the grass has gotten and how many eggs I had collected that morning. I was so shocked and initially hurt by the accusations of judgement and discrimination that I made the decision to delete any political posts that I had recently posted, and would from now on mind my own business and let others continue to create their own path, complete with their own consequences. I would move on and let be, or so I thought. That night, and for the few days since, I have slept very little, and my mood is dark. Not because others may think badly of me (I’m a big boy), but because I think badly of myself for allowing others to bully me into censoring what I say and post, while they continue to post their thoughts, comments and memes willy-nilly without bothering to do even two minutes of fact checking with reliable sources. “Freedom of speech!!” they scream, except for if someone doesn’t agree with their bigotry. Yes, we all do have “Freedom of Speech”, as guaranteed by the Constitution of this already great country we share, but with that freedom comes a responsibility to be truthful, not hateful. To judge each other by our words and our actions, not by the color of our skin. To celebrate our differences, not promote candidates that would undo years of progress, or laws that would further separate us into different classes not worthy of the same rights. To be accepting of our individual religious beliefs, not promote violence if we don’t share those same convictions. To promote unity, not divide by using fear and lies. To show compassion, not look down upon. We have a responsibility to be kind in all that we do and say to each of us every day…and that also applies to what we choose to post on our social media pages. If you choose to post something that is untruthful, hateful and divisive, then it has not come from a place of kindness, and the results will have far reaching effects. Life truly is about choices, and the words that come out of our mouths and the company that we keep will surely determine the paths that we take.
I will admit that I might have gotten a little testy the other night, and if I hurt anyone’s delicate sensibilities in any way, that was not my intention. It was born out of frustration, and of concern for my future and the futures of those that I hold dear, and for that I will not apologize. Your freedoms do include being able to say and do what you like, as do mine, but not at the expense of others. I will continue to share photos and updates about the Farm, and about the Man, and I will do that mostly because that is what a great many people have to come to love and expect. I will also continue to share those things because they are the two things that I love the most in this world. For the same reason, I will continue to voice my opinion on the current political scene, and will keep an open mind about what other people may care to post, if they are reasonable and intelligent postings. I will also continue to censor what others post if they do not come from a place of kindness and compassion. I don’t allow that in my life outside of social media, and I will not allow it within.
Because, as a matter of fact, I believe that I AM better than that. We should all be better than that…