She put me in a box.
She posted a message on social media about “those people.” My people. Me! I considered canceling. I’m not going.
Before her post, I thought we were in the same box. She’s in that box?
I shouldn’t go. What if the boxes come up? Damned boxes.
But are they damned?
Boxes help us.
They sort and organize our lives and belongings. They safe keep keepsakes, store the out-of-seasons.
Boxes are essential.
Those virtual boxes in our heads, in our textbooks, on spreadsheets, on reports —categories, classes, types, styles…— this is how we sort our world and each other, for a better understanding.
- They’re paramedics. They save lives.
- Those are invertebrates. They have no backbone.
- He’s a math teacher. He explains numbers to students.
- We’re professional soccer players. We have strong legs.
- This is a dangerous narcotic. Keep it out reach of the children.
- She’s Hindu. She believes in reincarnation.
But boxes can blind us.
- She’s a Republican.
- She’s a Democrat.
I saw her political box. It wasn’t mine. Should I go?
What I know
It’s not like I don’t know people in that box, the other box. I have family in that box.
- I love them.
- I spend time with them.
- I sit at their table.
- We talk.
- I know them.
And there it is. I know them. I know that box is only part of their story, I know they are more than the box we use to understand their politic. I know they are much better than any box of politic.
The Golden Rule
I was bothered when I saw how her meme boxed us, made assumptions about me. I considered canceling. But I want to go! I don’t want to cancel.
I turned the boxes over with the Golden Rule. I don’t want to be confined to a box, only understood within that box. Why would I do that to her?
I went. We met, we spent time together, we sat together. We didn’t talk about those boxes, but we talked deeply. She is much more than her box of politic, and I am more for having gone. I gained a friend.
Boxes can be good, but we shouldn’t allow boxes to limit our love and understanding.
Stepping outside the box
These are difficult times. We can stir the difficult pot or step outside the box to be the change, to make a difference. We can’t control others. We can, however, choose how we interact with others.
I choose love over the boxes. I want to be heard, but first I must listen. I want to be seen, but first I must collapse all the boxes.
The process is slow and sometimes painful. Listening and seeing to make a difference, to be the change, requires faith and love, but the magic of that slow alchemy is worth it.
I’m glad I went. We saw each other. We heard each other. We didn’t kick around our boxes of politic this time, but I think we’re in a better position to hear each other when we come round to that.
©Pennie Nichols All Rights Reserved 2020
Absolutely, we are so much more than our political views. I have been blown away by the hatred in our country. I want to feel free to vote however I like without repercussions. This is America! If you don’t like who is in office you wait peacefully then vote again. The way we had conducted our elections in the past separated us from many other countries. We had true freedom of speech. We could vote, support, how we viewed things without being afraid of losing friendships. We had no fear of being politically harassed. That is true freedom. I love all people with good hearts. Race, political views, status, does not sway me.
Climb out of the box Pennie! Let your love shine to all.
I really enjoyed this piece and so identified with its message. Thank you!
So true: it’s in our nature to categorize quickly–people, plants, movies, food, what have you. Categorizing was an important survivial skill for our ancient ancestors, but most of us are too quick to categorize and dismiss others. Great post!
Very well put, Pennie! We should all live by that Golden Rule!
What is this very human tendency to categorize people? I know I do it! To my shame…
When I think of boxes, I always think of this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD8tjhVO1Tc
I appreciate your thinking. At the same time, I hope the box I checked DOES define me–as a decent and loving human being who believe in building, not destroying. So my vote is always a reflection of who I am as a person. The choice is stark this time. I am proud of my vote.
I feel the same, but my vote tells only part of my story. Not all of it.
Glad you decided to go! You “walked your talk”!
Authenticity isn’t always easy, but it feels better.
I’m in a box, I may as well decorated and make myself at home.
But I’m sure you’re much more than a single box, Karen!