This month, I am bringing you something a little bit different. I would like to share with you a video podcast which has really struck a chord with me. (Disclaimer - There will be swear words. Apologies if that bothers you although I still highly recommend listening.)
I've been a big fan of the Joe Rogan Experience for a long time. I find his approach to be as close to open and considerate of all angles as a person can hope to be. Even when he talks to someone I disagree with, I find it really valuable practice for myself to listen to opposing view.
This particular conversation is with Megan Phelps-Roper. She grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. You know, the group that protests funerals and events with signs like "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". Megan left the church 4 years ago and has been sharing her story ever since. There are two things in particular that moved me about this conversation.
First, it really gives an insight into a group I think most of us, regardless of political or religious bent, would say is vile. Megan explains in depth the mindset of the church members and how they can truly believe what they are doing is right. From the outside, it's so difficult to imagine how anyone can think yelling at grieving family can be justified. And yet, all of us carry our own beliefs about what is right and wrong, often without ever being curious or questioning why we believe these things. We are all human beings that are products of our environments, our upbringings, and our experiences. Imagine if we could all hold our beliefs a little less sacred, not to invalidate them, but to make room for new ideas and growth.
The second thing that really moved me about this talk is the power of real, humane conversation. Megan explains how her doubts about the church's doctrine and methods were fostered until her ultimate decision to leave. It wasn't because people yelled at her or called her names. It was people (on Twitter of all things) talking and listening to her in a human and compassionate way. It's not hard to see how valuable this reminder is in the current political and societal climate we're in. The power of change is in meeting each other as fellow human beings, even if that human being holds beliefs that are abhorrent to our own. Change is not created through self-righteous name calling. That only serves our own egos. So, I invite you, next time you find yourself engaged in an argument, to check what your motivations are. Are you trying to learn or question or invite someone else to see things in a different way? Or, are you trying to get an ego boost from winning or being "right"?
I know that this is a long talk but I cannot recommend it highly enough if any of what I have said has resonated. You don't have to watch. Put it on in the background while you do the dishes or work on your computer. I would love to know what your thoughts are and if this resonated or triggered something in you. I hope you are having a wonderful transition from spring to summer! Be well and enjoy the rest of June. xoxo