What to do?
While we may feel need to vent concerning whatever disturbs us, the venting then becomes the central focus of criticism not the issue that concerns us. How we express our concerns is really important because those who disagree with us would like to focus attention away from the actual issue. Sometimes we make that quite easy for them. It's the "kill the messenger" approach and it works quite well, if the messenger provides an easy target.
We've become an emotionally focused culture. We are not generally a context or content focused culture. That creates great difficulty in getting voices heard as context and content driven information tends not be emotionally charged and is often ignored or overlooked. So, our challenge is to appeal to emotion without being ignorant of the greater perspective.
I am advocating a context driven, issue driven, content driven approach to all that we do. It's kind of the non-violent approach to written word, social media posts and "memes". I am an activist and an advocate but I am challenging myself to focus on a "do no harm", non-violent, non-oppressive approach.
I am a great admirer of those I follow who are clear and focused but never cruel in how they approach what they say, what they do or what information they share. They are not shy to share a point of view but very careful in how they share it. As a result of their disciplined approach, they have a seat at the table. Their voices are heard and respected. Slowly and carefully, they are making a significant difference in our communities.
They are looking a year down the road, 5 years down the road and 10 years down the road. They know bridges burned today could be important a year, 5 years or 10 years from today. Being so, they are context focused and context lasts years. Emotion is a flash; here today and gone tomorrow. Emotion evaporates and cannot create a solid foundation on which to build anything.
At best, emotion can generate the passion TO build something. But the hard work begins with the actual building. That require content - substance - something that sustains a foundation.
What do do?
Move beyond emotion and into the content that creates context. Be in it for the long haul. We need a 1 year, 5 year and 10 year approach. In the meantime, do no harm. Vent in private. Build in public. Be known as someone who applauds the positive and recognizes those working hard to create something better. Be known as someone who collaborates and builds bridges without doing harm.
Venting is a slash and burn approach. It sets us up to be slashed and burned. Think long term. Think collaboratively. It requires more discipline but it has greater promise of long term success.