Disarming Contempt

My husband asked me the other day why I had not been adding to my blog. No new content since last February. I told him I felt like everything I was seeing and feeling was negative and I was waiting for some positivity to arise. But I don’t know if one can just wait. Sure, delightful surprises happen, but mostly, we are fed and extract negativity. It’s part of our evolutionary makeup. Those who pay attention to danger are more likely to have survived to propagate. But the current climate of negativity is mostly artificial. The media hypes negativity to generate viewing because we, at least in the United States, have developed an addiction to it. Negative stories catch our attention and produce dopamine to give us a little high, so we stay watching or reading the news. And nothing coalesces views like conflict within danger. The division. The language. We should hate the other side who believes the opposite, for they will be our downfall. This anger and disgust forms contempt, and a shield wall builds around like-minded individuals, reinforcing positions and views. And soon contempt whirs from the shield wall with spearpoints aimed at the other side.

Contempt is an ugly weapon, saying that others are worthless because they do not think like you, and ultimately are beneath your regard. It is also the antichrist to reason, working with almost cult-like mechanics to blind individuals to a bigger picture, the greater purpose, and the truth. But it’s hard to eliminate when even our elected officials spit out wildfire to burn their opponents. And so, the trebuchets release in defense in perpetuation, and the war, contempt, rages.

“Writer,” you say. “You said you were looking for positivity.”

I know, dear reader, be patient. I will get us there. But first we must traverse a bit of my personal warzone.

I stood atop a continental divide, teetering. To my left, my parents and their friends. To my right, my husband, his family. Liberal versus conservative. Trump-haters versus Trump-supporters. Where once my parents and in-laws commingled to watch the boys’ football games and wrestling matches, and we could all go out to dinner after for a fun evening, those days are gone.

There is a reason friendly discussion best avoids the topics of politics and religion. They are entirely too personal unless purposed for meaningful, rounded discussion. But this rarely happens; we spout opinions to convince others we are right and to change their beliefs.

My husband and his family routinely incite political conversation. They fear the democrats are ruining our country, our freedoms, our values, casting the future generations in debt for wokeness, flooding our lands with immigrants so they can maintain the vote and maintain power.

My parents and their friends follow the mainstream media: Trump was evil, only Biden can save us.

Before the 2020 election, my father-in-law would incessantly talk to and even tease my father about Trump, until one evening, after a wrestling match, my father snapped. He called my father-in-law an “idiot,” believing he expressed it jokingly, but it was not received that way. My father tried to make amends, but even those were ill-received. The in-laws had thrown up their shield wall with the November 2020 elections results. Their contemptuous barbs are sharp for they “have no use for people like (my) parents” and now don’t even like their friends who are democrats.

And so, the family unity crumbled.

I love each side of my family. They are all great people in their own right. But where once I stood on a divide, contempt has eroded my position into an abyss.

Contempt is such a miasma, a toxic cloud, poisoning progress, impeding vision, and a rigor mortis to reason. So, what do we do about it? We disarm it, dismantle it, and abolish it. Contempt breeds contempt, so do no further propagation. Remove armed words from your lexicon. Release no more arrows on the other side. Lower your wall and listen. Most often, people just want to be heard. And while you may or will not agree with your speaker, just smile. It will inhibit anger, stymie your need to argue. And most importantly, it will disarm your speaker. Maybe then they will listen to you to procure a constructive conversation. Maybe then, an agreement will be reached.

Positivity is a choice. Those who are happiest know love, so I am giving love.

If you read my last post, The Bridge You Unfriended from February 21st, 2021, I have rewritten sections of it, letting go of my contempt and offering hope. Someday soon, I will seek my old friend. With a smile, I will ask him how he has been, and then I will tell him how his actions made me feel. If he is still as kind as my memories of him portray, my old friend will listen.

As for my parents and in-laws, only they can abolish their contempt. And I wish they would, if only for my boys.

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