[schema type=”person” name=”Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson” orgname=”Swanson Speaks, Inc.” jobtitle=”Owner, Motivational Speaker” url=”www.kellyswanson.net” description=”Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson speaks out on hateful facebook posts and angry discourse in a nation filled with conflict.” country=”US” email=”firstname.lastname@example.org” ]Okay, so I'm not exactly the poster child for thinking before I speak. But as I look at all the absolutely hateful posts on Facebook these days, I can't help but address the subject and take a second look at myself and the words I use – because motivational speakers know that words have great power – and can either empower your message or stand in the way of it.
We all have truths we want to share. We all have a unique viewpoint on the world. We all think we're right. And we all believe strongly in what we believe strongly. Not everybody believes the same thing that we do. So get over it. It's called diversity. It's called America. It's called sharing the planet and having the freedom to cast our vote in the way we believe. We are never going to think exactly alike.
So when issues come up for discussion (and they will come up for discussion because we have to work together to find common ground) then we can either:
1. Shut up and say nothing ever. And then quietly vote the way we believe.
2. Scream at the other side, call them ugly names, and vow revenge.
3. Find ways to have healthy discussions based on ideas, awareness of the problems, and possible solutions – all the while holding those conversations with politeness, kindness, grace, and forgiveness – while still speaking directly in truth without fear.
I used to go with number one. Smile and look for rainbows. And it worked for a while. But somewhere over time I began to look at things from a teambuilding perspective (I am a motivational speaker after all) and realized that just shutting up is a cop out. It doesn't make the team work better together, and it harbors secret resentment. And issues aren't discussed or solved. They are ignored. And there's just something unfair about ignoring it all and eating ice cream while I let the others figure it out. We're in this together. We deserve to figure it out together.
I'm often tempted to go with number two. Because when someone calls me racist or greedy, it's hard to be nice. When someone calls me uneducated, or tells me I don't care about the poor – well, it hurts my feelings. And when someone defines an entire group of people based on something like their race or political affiliation, I get really offended that I'm judged so harshly and you've never met me. And so my first instinct is to react with my cat claws out and call them names too. I think it's human. When attacked, we want to defend. But I've learned that as good as it may feel to lash out – it doesn't last long. The anger escalates and suddenly I'm now attacked again. And it certainly doesn't get us anywhere as a team.
So now I'm left with number 3 – which I have decided is the right thing to do. And not only the right thing, but the necessary thing. The time is past for me to stand aside and watch the house catch fire and burn and blame everyone else for lighting the match. It's time to be a part of the team. It's time to find ways to have healthy discussions based on ideas, awareness, and solutions. It's time to come together as a people – in unity and in love.
Easier said than done.
So I'm taking it one baby step at a time. And the first one is to simply check my heart before I speak (or post) or enter into a discussion about how this country should work. Before I hit "post" I am going to ask myself one simple question:
What is the true motive of my heart in this moment?
Because when I am honest with myself, I know when my post is an attack, created by anger and the desire for vengeance. And I know when my post is written with love and the desire to serve my neighbor. And the way I structure my words based on each motive will be entirely different.
I truly believe that when we check our heart before we speak, and seek to speak from a servant's heart rather than a judgement heart, our words will change. The conversation will change. And while we may not agree on the issue or the way to fix it, we will still be a strong team – diverse, yet unified.
And so today I look across the fence to my neighbor who sees the world from a different perspective. And I say, "Welcome. I'm sorry for the words I gave in haste. I'm sorry for the times I judged you without knowing you. I'd like to hear your story. And if you're willing, I'd love to share mine."
Your motivational speaker Kelly Swanson, trying to find the path in life of true encouragement, empowerment, and grace