For many people, heated political and ethical arguments are unavoidable, even if it’s just something you’re witnessing.
The notion of “agreeing to disagree” doesn’t have to be the only solution, according to Kelly Madrone, who suggested other methods of respecting not only others, but also yourself.
Madrone, a former Frederick resident who now lives in Colorado, led a workshop earlier this month titled “Courageous Compassion” at the Unschool of Yoga in Frederick. Madrone is a writer, communications consultant and massage therapy teacher.
Her inspiration for the workshop was seeing relationship rifts ever since the 2016 election.
“How do I build that understanding from people whose views are so different than mine,” Madrone said.
The first step, she said, is getting past the idea that you are so different from the person whose views contradict yours. Madrone said there’s a series of factors and experiences that lead to people having a point of view, but the root of most of our decisions is either fear or love.
“With most people, we really don’t know whatever happened in their life,” she said.
People have become ingrained to view others as a “formula” rather than an individual person, Madrone said, in reference to how certain regions and cultures get lumped together. This is counterproductive to getting to that place of compassion and understanding.
It’s important not to confuse compassion with acceptance, Madrone said. People should be able to stay in a conversation without the mentality that the only solution is “turning the other cheek.” You should also show that if you want someone to hear your view, you will reciprocate and listen to theirs.
“Sometimes a success can be ‘OK, we stopped yelling at each other,’” she said.
Heated political discussions on social media are a different matter, she said. It can be hard to understand tone in writing. There can also be a “dogpiling” effect, where others jump into what had been a respectful discussion between two people. Madrone suggested taking those kinds of conversations offline or at least having them through private messages.
When a discussion occurs through the written word, Madrone said it’s OK to ask: “This is how I heard that — is that how you intended it?”
As part of the self-care aspect, Madrone said sometimes you need to give yourself a break from a certain person or situation.
“Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is disengage emotionally if you don’t want to have the same fight over and over again,” Madrone said.
A problem with today’s society is that putting yourself in stressful situations has started to become a badge of pride, she said. Self-care doesn’t need to be a weekly 90-minute massage, and it could be as simple as a daily 10-minute breather at work.
Olney resident Virginia Perry attended Madrone’s workshop and said she liked the idea that being thoughtful and being productive were not necessarily contrasting. Sometimes this means hitting the “reset” button, she said.
“Taking that time to de-stress or relax can actually increase your capacity for being more productive,” Perry said.
She added that the idea of being triggered or provoked sometimes falls more on yourself than another person.
“We don’t need to be [provoked] if we focus on where our own value lies,” she said.