Politics can bring out the best and the worst in us.
The Iglesia ni Cristo hullabaloo on Edsa last month was the perfect example of how political colors can send emotions soaring and tempers flaring on social media. We lauded and applauded, but mostly we were disappointed, no matter whose presidential camp we were in.
For me, it brought home the point that I needed to keep myself and my emotions in check. People are entitled to their own opinions and if they wanted to spill vitriol on their wall, that’s their personal choice—whatever eases their stress, I guess.
It was also a good time to remind myself that this was all temporary. That issues, and the way certain candidates behaved, tended to strike people different ways, and that if they chose to be angry or incensed in the moment, it wasn’t because they were really vile, but because they were just passionate about their beliefs.
However, it was also an opportunity to weed out people and personalities whose comments, bordering on the vile, were just a bit too much. Thankfully, Facebook has a function that allows you to “unfollow” the postings of friends and acquaintances, such that they no longer appear on one’s feed. I’ve been clicking a lot on that lately. I think it’s a much better, kinder option to blocking or un-friending.
Like I said, hopefully, after May 2016, things and passions will normalize.
Perhaps it’s also that I’ve grown older and mellowed in my ways. I remember a time, several years back, when a close friend and I had a major falling out because our politics were polar opposites. Words were hurled, the sharpest of barbs exchanged. People took sides. Major damage, major fallout. Sisterhood broken.
The wound stung for many years, and as we all know, painful words, when spoken, can’t ever be taken back.
When I look back now, it was a silly spat of perhaps two emotional, high-strung women on the verge of midlife.
In war, no one wins, and there will always be collateral damage. The political personalities my friend chose over me at that time are still around, but my friend is no longer a part of their world; in the same breath, she had ceased to be part of mine.
Time has a way of healing wounds, and when I hear about her now, I’m glad to know that she has found the happiness and peace that eluded her for a while. When you are able to sincerely wish well someone who has hurt you, that’s when you know that you’ve forgiven.
Election season will come and go, but real friendships need to be nurtured and taken care of. Sometimes, in the pursuit of glory and power, we become different people, forgetting who we are and what we stand for.
Power, after all, can be intoxicating, whether it be in politics or in the realm of friendship. It pays to always remember that everything is temporary. Power ends, dictators fall.
I’ve made a promise not to bash any candidate on my wall and choose to highlight only the good—even if the good comes from a candidate I’ve not chosen.
This election season is tricky because I have friends from different camps, and because I value and treasure their friendship, I will refrain, and restrain myself, as much as I can, from putting negative things on my wall or engaging anyone publicly in a debate.
Positivity is my chosen path, and growing older has taught me that choosing to keep the peace will always be the more prudent way. What I will not tolerate are unkindness and bullying. Not on social media, not in real life.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review talked about the harmful effects of second-hand stress:
“Nowadays, we may know to avoid smoking lounges and we wash our hands after being in busy airports, but in the future, we may realize the key to health and happiness is improving our emotional immune system to protect ourselves from others’ stress. And of course, it’s not just other people’s stress that matters—our own mind-set affects the happiness of those around us. A positive mind-set can improve our own lives, and the lives of everyone around us.”
Keep that in mind in the next few months, as traffic has begun to escalate to nightmarish proportions. And with the holidays and election season upon us, you will need to take better care of your mental and physical health.
When the second-hand stress becomes too much, do a digital detox, disengage, create pockets in your day or your week to take a break and get away.
Be selective about what you listen to, and read. Peace of mind is precious and can affect the state of your health. Remember, the freedom to un-follow is just a click or a tap away.