I love Tavi. I don't know if she ever feels afraid of backlash, but it doesn't stop her from speaking up anyway. It's a good thing to remember that no matter what the opposition thinks, if you're speaking from your heart and using the facts with integrity, you will be making connections over the internets with people who need to hear what you're saying.
So don't censor yourself. And don't shut down others. (I'm looking at you, hashtag hijackers. More on that one later.)
Create a dialogue. Reach out and reach out again. Sure, it's harder than bullying others into silence and harder than giving up on people. Creating a dialogue takes some courage and some time. But I'm ever more convinced that it's how we move forward as humanity.
I'm going to try and take my own advice here. This is how:
1. Assume that, unless they say otherwise, people want similar things: health, happiness, security for themselves and for their families, and for the country we share. Assume that we all have similar goals, but that we may have different ideas about how to get there.
Recently, I read an article about a Republican who said, “No business would split a team working on its most important policies into two oppositional groups, and we citizens shouldn’t allow this either."
That sounds downright reasonable. Clearly, there should be multiple parties contributing to our government and serving as checks/balances on each other. That's a good thing. But we don't have to hate each other. It doesn't help us move forward together (which we kind of have to do, living on the same Earth and all.)
I've said it before: No institution benefits when it excludes the contributions from any group based on immutable characteristics (I'm looking at you, United Methodist Church and exclusion of gay people).
2. Leave aside ad hominem attacks. No questioning someone's sanity, love of family or country or countries or world, none of that. (I want to make an exception for comedians, who as our culture's court jesters, go by a different set of communication rules.)
3. Speak honestly. It doesn't help the world if we don't share our experiences truthfully.
4. Speak intelligently. Because it also doesn't help the world if we speak from ignorance. It's ok to say, "I don't know."
5. Speak lovingly. Basically, #1 again. Just a reminder.
Will practice this daily, hopefully right here.