A strong take

For a time, I was one of those guys on Facebook with strong, bold takes on politics, even willing to get into an argument with a stranger from time to time if need be. Especially in my 20s, it felt enlivening and vital. It was my way to show the world that I cared. My way to show I wasn’t weak or scared. My way to actually do something.

But eventually, as the amount of my life spent arguing or crafting some perfect comment grew, I noticed it all become much more draining, stressful, and increasingly toxic. I often felt agitated and preoccupied with some squabble. I saw the insidious effects of growing divisiveness and vitriol in the world around me. Adding more anger to the world felt less helpful than it once had.

So I stopped. It wasn’t hard to get interested in less political issues like personal growth, philosophy, and organizational development instead. It was much more peaceful. And I felt better about myself and the kinds of relationships and conversations I was attracting.

Now, when I put writing out into the world, it’s rarely intentionally divisive, overtly political, or applying pressure for others to adopt some agenda of mine. I try as much as possible to just offer different ways of looking at ourselves, life, and the world that perhaps can help foster greater peace, clarity, courage, and wisdom.

And then I look around at the world. I try to see it clearly.

There is a lot of good news, yes. But then I also see yet another unspeakable mass shooting, compounding climate emergencies, growing authoritarianism and political insanity, and deeply exciting yet concerning advances in technology, all darkening our horizons, and increasingly, our today. There are very real, very deep challenges that we too often shy away from or try to ignore. I can’t help but feel that more of us need to say and do something about it, quickly.

I also sense the part of me that feels passionate about advocacy, is willing to be courageous and hold an unpopular opinion, and has a conviction that urgent action is needed. I realized I’ve deadened the part of me in favor of the part that wants to be at peace and doesn’t want people to be mad at me. More and more, I feel out of integrity with the world and myself.

When I really listen within, what feels most alive lately is an impulse to speak more powerfully and boldly, especially about ways I and others can be in greater integrity with ourselves, our society, and our planet.

Yet, as I learned before, doing so can so quickly devolve into something toxic – both for myself and others. So here are some questions that can help guide me:

  • Am I being fiercely kind? Or fiercely cruel, defensive, and self-serving?
  • Am I embodying whatever ethos I am calling others into?
  • Am I being open, curious, and vulnerable?
  • Does saying something right now serve anyone other than myself?

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