July 13, 2020
They had a chance encounter in the parking lot. It didn’t go well. They had often shared cordial conversation and pleasantries in the twenty years their businesses have existed next door to each other. But this time would be different.
The man complained about the current COVID19 restrictions and made derogatory comments about our governor who put the guidelines in place. When my friend gently offered that our governor wasn’t all bad and in fact has done good things for our state, the man exploded into a tirade about libtards, clearly placing my friend in that category. As he got louder and more animated, two other business owners across the parking lot came out to see what was going on and offer support to my friend who was clearly shaken by the encounter. She tried to suggest to her neighbor that they had known each other for a long time and perhaps they could just have a conversation without the shouting. It made no impact.
We are seeing this same thing play out in all those ‘Karen’ videos that are flowing through social media. Angry and hateful. Screaming and yelling. Raw emotion. And like toddlers throwing temper tantrums, there is no reasoning with these people.
As my dear friend and I talked about her encounter we wondered, as so many of us are wondering, how healing will happen with this violent polarization in our country. Especially as there seems no possibility of conversation or dialogue to navigate our differences. When small children are spewing angry emotion, we tell them to use their words. The problem is that for these ‘Karen’ adults their words often parrot the angry, hate filled, derisive, and divisive words of our current administration. Are they even using their own words? There is no critical thinking. Just criticism and condemnation.
Within this there is the clear lesson that the policies of our education system have failed us. We have abandoned explorations in critical thinking for standardized testing. That must change. However the more immediate genesis for these tantrums is emotional not intellectual.
Looking at the videos and images of MAGA folks, they rarely seem happy. Their faces and hostile language are filled with such rage. In my more compassionate moments, I can see them as people who are afraid and deeply wounded. And those wounds are festering. Violently.
For those of us who consider ourselves compassionate people, for those of us committed to holding the space of peace and love and light, we are challenged. We try to use our words but that doesn’t work. The MAGA narrative creates an impregnable barrier to resolution and reconciliation. It seems there is no common ground to be found. With this seemingly endless war of words, how will we find a way forward? How will we find healing? Because use your words is not working.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org