120 – Pick Your Battles

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PICK YOUR BATTLES…

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OK!  Today a listener of this show, and a former Mantoree suggested that I do an episode about picking our battles.  In light of the current political climate…I would have to agree.

You can’t browse social media these days without seeing something offensive or contrary to your way of thinking…regardless of what you believe in.  I have a lot of Facebook friends, the majority of whom live in Norway, but I also have lots of relatives and friends on social media as well…as we all do. 

Right now, on my social media platforms about half of everything I have to look at is political in nature.  Many express wildly different viewpoints. 

Some are ok, just people making a point or expressing support for their candidate, while others are horrible, bordering on vile and insulting.  Some people broadcast insults with a very broad brush and include everyone who supports either candidate.  This, of course incites an equally vile, defensive response, and America as a whole drifts further apart.

This is to be somewhat expected in an election year…I get it.  It seems a little more intense than usual this time around though.  I find myself having to exercise extreme control…it’s difficult at times to not get sucked into some discussion that will ultimately go nowhere and probably upset someone I care about.  Right now, more than other times, it is especially important that you pick your battles.

It is for this exact reason that I choose not to discuss religion or politics on this podcast, because these are things that divide people immediately.  For example, if I were to start promoting either candidate, or a third party, or lift up one religion over another on this podcast…I would lose many of you because of the decisive nature of those positions.  I prefer to concentrate on the things that make us similar rather than the things that make us different.

The things that make us similar are much more substantial as well…like, we are all human beings…of the same exact species.  We are men, we are brothers, and uncles, and fathers and sons and husbands.  We all reside on the same piece of rock that is hurling through space.  These are things that make every one of us similar, they are undeniable, dramatic, and profound things.

Meanwhile the things that separate us are all like vapor, they are without mass or form…they are merely ideas, opinions and beliefs that begin as tiny electrical sparks in our brains, and they are responsible for more bloodshed than anything else in the history of the planet.

Does it have to be so?  Does our very humanity doom us to this behavior?  I personally don’t think so, not if we pick our battles.

So what does all this have to do with being a better man?  Well, you have heard me say many times that our relationships are the most valuable things we possess.  With that being said…as men who are trying to be better men, it is incumbent upon us to be good stewards of those relationships.

During this election cycle I have seen friends unfriend other friends.  I have watched helplessly as family members get angry at other family members and stop talking to them because of what they posted on social media.  I have seen insults hurled, and names called and relationships in general be compromised…and for what?  Why?  Because people are reacting without thinking…you must pick your battles.

Too many people are becoming so emotionally attached to an opinion or a belief that it winds up taking priority over their relationships.  This is kind of a tragic phenomenon, because down the road, long after this election has come and gone you might want these people to be in your lives and depending on how severe the damage done was…that might be tough.

You have to pick your battles carefully.  You have to make a determination on whats more important; maintaining a relationship with someone, or cramming your own point of view down their throat. 

I don’t tell people what to do on this show, but I do give you things to think about, and I encourage all of you to pick your battles wisely.  Your relationships are more important than anyone’s opinion, and if they aren’t…maybe you should evaluate that relationship. 

I have certain rules that govern my social media interactions, my rules might be more strict than yours need to be because of the sheer diversity of people I have, but…if you make some rules of engagement for yourself it can help you when deciding how to pick your battles.

1.  For one I almost never post controversial material, and never on purpose.  Not because I don’t have an opinion…but because I don’t think Facebook is the right platform.  I have never seen anyones mind get changed on Facebook, have you?  Instead I only see it divide people.  And if you decide to post something controversial you have to be prepared for a challenge…because it always comes.  If I am going to engage in a controversial debate I choose to do it in person.

2.  My next rule is that I consider other people’s timeline like their house.  You wouldn’t barge into someones house and start screaming at them about how wrong they are would you?  Then why would you do that on their timeline?  If I don’t agree with a post I won’t say anything.  I will disagree with comments occasionally, like I did in the earlier example, but I was still in agreement with the original post.

3.  My third rule is that I don’t allow people to post controversial stuff on my timeline.  If someone does then I delete it immediately.  Again…it’s like putting a political sign in someone else’ yard, I think its rude.

4.  Lastly, when I do respond to a comment or find myself embroiled in a disagreement I do so with facts and figures, rather than emotion.  Just like in real life…the second emotions enter the picture the whole thing becomes pointless, now you are arguing about ideologies and beliefs, things that are felt rather than known.  There are never any winners to such an argument so I refuse to participate.  Of course to never call names and never resort to personal insults goes without saying.

So those are my four simple rules, and because of them…none of the relationships I care about have been casualties of this election year. 

I encourage you to decide what and who is important to you, and make your own rules of engagement, and then live by them. Pick your battles, instead of letting the battles pick you.

It’s important to have opinions and to know where you stand on things.  It’s not just important, it’s imperative that you do.  I am not suggesting that you become a passive mamby pamby guy with no convictions.  Rather, I am suggesting that you decide when and where to express those views, You pick your battles.  If there is nothing to be gained then perhaps it isn’t worth your energy.  Likewise, if the potential loss of relationship is high, then perhaps…it also isn’t worth your while.

Ok guys, it’s the weekend, so head out into the world and you be the master of you.  Don’t let other people determine your actions. You decide when and where and if you engage in differences of opinion.  In the process you are caring for the most valuable things you have…your relationships, and you are being a better man today than you were yesterday.

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