If we don’t see the whites of someone else’s eyes how will we ever be able to see eye to eye?

An announcement of a local rally scheduled for tomorrow appeared in our email communication that includes several surrounding towns. The list appears early each morning covering anything and everything from searching for items, local announcements, business promotions, help wanted and general points of interest etc…Very informative and helpful and it works great until it doesn’t.

I was up very early this morning as I was tired of chasing my racing thoughts while acknowledging that constant level of anxiety that doesn’t seem to want to leave these days. Seemed futile just to toss and turn or maybe it was just an excuse to get up early and start my day. I do love the early morning as the world is quiet and the day is new. The smell of fresh brewing coffee filled the living room while the automatic coffee maker complained just a little bit. The whole day was ahead, and this quiet moment allowed me the uninterrupted time to organize and plan my day. The possibilities of the day were yet to be imagined…

The first cup of coffee was dedicated to going over my unread emails while checking a couple of my social media pages. I find it very hard not to check those “likes” after posting my work on Instagram. I still do not really understand what that virtual acceptance does for any of us but none the less check I must. Barely through my cup of coffee I noticed a new email in response to the rally announcement that I had just finished reading. The language was harsh and toxic words spewed throughout his email. Spelling and grammatical errors were distracting but an image developed in my mind of someone so angry that he just rapidly punched the keys in an effort to get his words out as quickly as his fingers would allow. He too was unable to chase away those racing thoughts. Anger was rising from my computer screen like the steam from my hot cup of coffee. 

Unimaginable that the mere mention of a small local rally triggered such an explosive response. I was just waiting for the sun to rise but he was waiting for an opportunity to make his angry opinions known. Our opinions matter and we are free to state them and share them, but I couldn’t help but wonder about being disinhibited when we respond virtually.  If we don’t see the whites of someone else’s eyes how will we ever be able to see eye to eye?  Maybe it doesn’t really matter but I can’t help but think it does. Virtual communication takes the human being out of the equation and behavior changes accordingly. Naturally and unfortunately others weighed in over the course of the day fueling the flame. Nothing constructive came from the many emails.  Listening and learning from one another was predictably absent. 

As I ran down the street before 7 a.m. this morning in an effort to avoid the heat of the day I mentally acknowledged how heated the day had already become. I couldn’t help but wonder how someone could wake up so angry before the day had even begun. I began to reflect on how pervasive anger is in our country. How can we begin to have real and challenging conversations when the first reaction is deep seeded anger? 

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” 
Mark Twain

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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