What If…It’s Not About Choosing Sides?

When I was a kid, I was always the last one to be chosen for any activity in gym class. I understood why. If you needed to ⚾️catch, throw or hit a ball, I wasn’t your girl. I knew that I didn’t have what it took to be one of the first kids chosen, but I still wanted to be on a side. I really wanted to be on the 😎cool side. The side with my 😍friends. The winning side- even though I knew I couldn’t contribute to the win. My best hope was to be chosen for a team and stay at the back of the line so I wouldn’t ever get a turn at-bat.

Truth be told, I hated that kids were allowed to choose sides. I wanted the teacher to just put us on teams. That simple act would have saved me from being one of the last kids chosen for kickball or softball or whatever 🏀sports-ball. The other kids were my friends, but they weren’t stupid. They knew that I wasn’t going to hit the winning shot or make that perfect 🏈catch. Just wasn’t going to happen. I still remember standing there time after time with a frozen 😬smile on my face as all of the “good 🎽athletes” were called before me.img_1595

I knew I had other 💖qualities that the kids did like. Being a sports teammate just wasn’t one of them. I’m over it, although those experiences do affect decisions I make in my own classroom.💯

As I look around the 🌎world today, it’s not much different from my days in gym🎽 class. People are picking sides. It goes farther than that, though. Folks aren’t just choosing a team. They’re shaming the other side in the process. You see it, too. 👀I know you do.

I’m not talking about one topic, either. ⏪⏩Sides are being chosen for every stinking thing! Here’s my question- why? I don’t mean, “why are people choosing sides.” ❓My wondering is about the shaming. People are going to choose sides. We’re going to have opinions and beliefs that differ. That’s life. ❓Why the rudeness? ❓Why the hurtful words? ❓Why the fierce clinging to one mindset without even considering the other side? ❓Why is it wrong to embrace a new outlook?

I don’t know about you, but I will never be convinced to change my mind through bullying.🚫 Nasty comments will turn me away every single time. Bet on it! If you’re throwing negativity my way, I’m going to run the other direction. 💥I’m going to scroll past the article you posted. I’m going to move on- searching for clear, balanced, thoughtful voices.💫

If you’re hoping to make a point, you better do your 💡research first. I don’t mean that you should read one article from the same source you read every day. Don’t listen to the same broadcast. 🔍Find different perspectives. Do a little analysis for yourself AFTER hearing a few angles. Ask some uncomfortable questions. Maybe that kid who can’t bat is able to 🏉throw. Get it?

You want me to come to your side, your way of thinking? Present a welcoming atmosphere and an open mind.💞 Be willing to listen to my views without criticism. A different stance might have some things to offer. ✅Be ready to share and accept facts- and those seem hard to come by lately.

My teacher friends and I ask our students to 🔍search for evidence. We talk about credible sources and 📚reading opposing views. The kids know how to research for facts by using more than one article or website. Maybe we need to assign ourselves that task before sharing a random post that we saw online. It could be 🌟accurate. It could also be full of ❌errors or half-truths.

Before choosing sides, do the work. It’s easy to stop the 🔍research when our opinions are confirmed. We shouldn’t stop, though, until we find something that makes us❓ question. Something that makes us want to dig a little deeper. We must be willing to learn information that might contradict what we think we know. 🎯It’s about give and take. Live and learn. Not winner and loser.

There are even issues that really don’t have a side, and people are still finding ways to argue. 😳Let’s take the hot-button issue of 😷masks, for instance. When you read that sentence, did your opinion pop up instantly? How did this topic even become about choosing sides?

It’s not as simple as you may think. If you must wear a 😷mask at your workplace, you wear it because you want the paycheck. I was glad that my dentist and hygenist wore masks while they were fixing my cracked tooth. A 🚑surgeon wouldn’t dare to do a procedure without one. Nail technicians always wear them on the job. You understand that 😷masks have a place.img_1594

Most of us didn’t give 😷masks a second thought before this pandemic. Now, there are new conditions to consider. We haven’t changed our opinions. Did you actually have an opinion on 😷masks before this? I didn’t. We’ve simply qualified our boundary lines. Whether or not you choose to mask up when you go to the grocery store, that’s very different than being “anti-mask.” Perspective!💥

Are there times when we have to choose sides? Of course. The election process is one example.💯We have turned choosing sides into a 🎾sport, though. When I say that I’m on the side of no nuts in 🍪cookies, I know that some of you will argue for the other side of the 🍪cookie debate. You probably have your reasons, but my taste-testing research confirms my theory! Go ahead- fight me! I still won’t like nuts in my 🍪cookies!

What if…it’s not about choosing sides?⏪⏩ Let’s drop the gym 🎽class mentality. I knew I wasn’t the kind of athlete that the other kids would want on their side if they wanted to 🌟win. Did it really matter? No! It needs to be about acceptance of all sides as we work toward the common goal of a better tomorrow.💖


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