In recent years tensions around the world have risen dramatically. The economy dropped for most of us. The globe is getting warmer every year and we are starting to feel the effects. Immigrants are flooding the Western world, expecting handouts. Gun deaths in America continue unabated. Thousands of refugees are being callously ignored by too many of us. The American family is under threat from liberal policies. The true meaning of Christmas is being overwhelmed by consumerism. Conservatives are unable to discuss policy without paranoid, knee-jerk responses. Liberals are unable to be anything but holier-than-thou and condescending. Technology has made it so more of us know people who live across the globe than we do our own neighbors. Trump shows real promise to Make America Great Again.

How did reading that paragraph make you feel? I know some of those statements were hard for me to even type, I find them so foreign. Are you confused? Making assumptions? Are you writing an angry diatribe in response? Did you finish reading this whole post before you started writing? Or are you laughing, anticipating trolling? Perhaps you are feeling superior, congratulating yourself for ‘catching on’ to what I’m trying to explore? It’s also entirely possible you have completely different thoughts, reasons, feelings. I am not in your brain and you are not in mine. The only way we can progress together, as a species, is by improving how we think about ourselves.

But wait, isn’t that selfish? No. If you do not know and understand yourself then you cannot say your actions are truly your own, nor can you say others truly understand you. If you don’t know your own needs, your own context, then you cannot clearly communicate with others.

Speaking for myself, unchecked fear, anger, and defensiveness haven’t gotten me very far. In fact, I’d say they’ve held me back quite a bit. I want to stop that and the first place to start is with myself. My hope is to become better at thinking about myself and my views in a more rational and critical way. This will help me to find more effective ways of communicating with and understanding my fellow humans.

Hopefully, in the process, I will also inspire you to do the same; to inspire us to learn about people we think we can’t understand. To learn how to have an enriching, rewarding conversation about any topic, even things like politics or religion, without coming away angry, closed off, or defensive. I do not want to use this blog to bludgeon people over the head. I am not here to fight you nor am I here to agree with you.

None of us are heroes and none of us are villains. We are humans, something infinitely more complicated, wondrous, and nuanced than any simple binary system could ever be.