• Sandy Reynolds

Stop Polarizing

I've always hesitated to start my newsletter with a greeting that overstates our relationship. Today I decided, given the content of this one, that if you are here, reading these words, if we are not friends, given the right circumstances, we could be.

This post is arriving a little later than usual. I decided to say something different from what I originally wrote. I usually take a few days to edit, but this one is coming straight to you without much of a pause between writing and sending. I hope you'll forgive any grammatical errors. I have a lot of readers outside of Canada. Although I am writing about a Canadian situation today, I think the same issues are faced everywhere.

You and I are not going to agree on everything. We don't need to agree on everything. We can respect each other, find our common ground, be aware of our biases and trigger points and still have a loving and caring relationship. I appreciate many people who don't share the same opinions.

I was talking to my husband the other day, and I said, "I find it interesting how many people I respect are unvaccinated." He asked me what I thought that said about me. I responded, "I hope it means they feel safe enough around me to be open about who they are." While I am double vaccinated, I believe that people should choose to make that decision for themselves. I know that won't please some people.*

Yesterday I drove to Beamsville from Hamilton along the main highway that links the US border to Toronto. Unknown to me, I was making that trip when the Freedom Truck convoy was also heading in the opposite direction. I posted what I saw on Instagram. The service roads on both sides and every overpass were full of people cheering on the truckers. It was surprising to see how many people were out on a frigid cold winter day showing their support.

I was pretty moved by what I saw. Some of these people held signs that said, "We are not the fringe." A reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comment, "The small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing do not represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other, who know that following the science and stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, our rights, our values, as a country."

I've been working on a course for a client called Courageous Conversations. In my research, I've been reading books on non-violent communication. I have been reminded our words matter. No one wants to be referred to as a fringe holding unacceptable views. When we start with a willingness to listen to each other, then we can make progress on our differences.

Canadians are typically bridge builders. We want to find ways to tolerate and accept differing viewpoints. That is who we traditionally are as a people. But for the first time in my memory, we are being divided by polarizing views.

I've received a lot of feedback from my post on Instagram. I shared no opinion for or against the convoy. I do believe in a democracy peaceful protest is a right. All I stated was what I saw. I received more responses to that single post than I have ever received on Instagram. And the reactions were divided.

I also felt a little anxious even posting an observation that would elicit strong opinions! Like me, I assume that you care about creating a world where you are free to express your beliefs. I also know that we need to live together in this world and that the future depends on us finding a way to put aside our egos and find a way to live in the tension of personal freedom and action that supports the common good. We will not be able to make progress on any of the significant issues facing us as a civilization without learning to live in that space of giving up personal freedom to help the collective.

I also feel that this is where wise women are going to be able to bring their wisdom to their communities to have open conversations rooted in love.

Well, that is directly from my heart to yours. I think we can do this work, and we can do it without attacking each other.

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