What I’m going to give AF about in 2017
“Democracy does not require uniformity” ~ Barack Obama, January 10, 2017
I have this habit of waiting until nearly mid-January to make my resolutions. Call it a new year’s hangover. Or I haven’t adjusted enough to the cold by January 1 to warm up to the idea. Regardless, I regularly need to let the new year marinate for a couple weeks before testing my ability to be resolute.
However, after reading the book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, by Mark Manson over the weekend and listening to our outgoing POTUS speak with such eloquence last night, I’ve finally hit on mine a bit “early” this year.
I resolve to stop giving stop giving AF about how my views might be perceived by those that might disagree with me and start giving AF about making my views known.
Because, while you might label me Pollyanna — and POTUS too — I still believe there is power in attempting to talk and listen to each other.
To be clear, I’m not saying, “I don’t give AF” about your views if they are different from mine. I’m not saying, “it’s my f*cking way or else”. Instead I’m saying this. In 2016, I made it a goal to listen to multiple viewpoints. I also had this misguided notion that in order to truly listen without judgement, I had to withhold my own views publicly for fear or alienating the roughly 35–40% of my social media sphere of contacts that likely don’t agree with me politically. (I later relented and added another ass backwards rule that I COULD comment on another post, I simply couldn’t be the instigator.) In short…this strategy drove me f*cking nuts. I had so much I wanted to say but backed myself into my own proverbial verbal corner.
So. Thanks to countless hours thinking “what would dad do?” along with the subtle nudging of Manson and overt directive from POTUS, those days are, thankfully, f*cking over.
I’m hereby liberating myself from my (mostly) closeted liberalism.
Honestly, I doubt that is very shocking for anyone to hear. But for my own good, I feel it’s best to come clean in a more overt fashion (albeit on a Wednesday afternoon where most of you are too busy working!).
As Manson describes, the subtle art of not giving a f*ck isn’t about not caring. In fact, quite the opposite. However, recognizing that we have a limited amount of f*cks to give in life, eventually we need to prioritize those f*cks, and give them accordingly.
Far too often over the past year I’ve heard that no one is listening to the “other” side. That we’re floating safely in our little self-crafted news and friend feed bubbles, comforted and protected by opinions that only match ours. And while that’s likely true, my interpretation of what Obama said last night was that he agrees with me that this strategy isn’t helping. Further, like him, I refuse to buy into the notion that the power of respectful conversation and listening can no longer effect positive change.
Yes. While we’re talking, I understand real problems will keep occurring, Trump’s gonna Trump, continued efforts to gerrymander our districts will further tilt the playing surface, and the rights of all of my non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-Christian friends and family will continue to be threatened.
But I don’t give AF anymore. As a words guy by trade, I’ve got to start using them…
So the question is, how to do that, without constantly ‘arguing’ with people and/or getting blocked out completely by those that don’t agree with me? With this in mind I thought of a conversation I had recently with a good, right-leaning friend of mine who recalled a story about bringing my dad to a small town establishment in northeastern Wisconsin. If you don’t know your geography…think red. And if you didn’t know my dad…think blue. To summarize (and this individual is welcome to correct me!):
Our friend told me that within 10 minutes of being amongst 99% republicans, my liberal dad had made friends with the whole bunch and could have talked to them about anything. And I’m sure many of you could say the same about him.
While I could only dream of approaching conversations with both the conviction and congeniality of my dad, it’s an approach I want to model. And I hope people respect that, as much as I welcome their viewpoint. Because somewhere along the way, on the macro level, roughly two thirds of Americans decided that the “other side” isn’t worth listening to, while the remaining third watches in despair. But for me, on a personal level, I pride myself of having a life enriched by differences of opinion.
And the prospect of continuing to forgo the ability to talk to all of my social circle in a rational, respectful and meaningful way — regardless of viewpoint — was simply a life I didn’t give AF about entertaining anymore.
So cheers to my official start of the New Year, and wishing an acceptable one to you all.