Something that I’ve grown to value and truly cherish about Jiu-Jitsu has been the wide net that Jiu-Jitsu casts. What I mean by that is that it pulls from different economic and racial demographics. Don’t get me wrong, Jiu-Jitsu isn’t cheap, but I have teammates that make it happen, even with the steep price tag.
Growing up where we did, we didn’t have friends who’s parents were doctors, scientists, and teachers. These are the types of connections that I currently have access to at the academy. During one roll I can be going back and forth with someone who owns his own business, the next I’m getting smashed by a scientist. We have nurses, fitness experts, doctors, contractors, police, and military personnel just to name a few.
Its genuinely a blessing to have, but at the same time it can also be an issue.
The last few months have been… interesting to say the least. Between the Covid Lockdown and then the George Floyd Protests I’ve seen some of the ugliest commentary posted on social media by training partners and friends alike. Look, I’m all for a healthy debate. I love a good discussion based on ideas, but the things that i’m seeing posted by people who I’m entrusting my life with, have been difficult to accept.
I’ve seen gun debates get heated in the past, but what I’ve seen as of late has been amped up. Everyone seems to be stressed out, frustrated that they don’t have their usual outlets, some are without jobs, and many are just simply suffering from Twitter fingers.
It feels like the people of this country have lost their ability to hold onto empathy, while discussion topics that are near and dear to them. As practitioners we practice an art that involves simulated murder. How is it that we can often go close to 100% in this dance of who kills who, and still be respectful of our partner’s well being. Yet, we don’t seem to be able to do the same thing on social media.
We need to do better.
In every argument, discussion, or debate, there needs to be a constant level of empathy for the other side. We need to understand that our backgrounds are different. Someone who’s lived through a violent attack, might feel differently about guns than someone who hasn’t. Someone who’s grown up Black in America is going to have a much different perceptive and experience of society than someone else. The same can be said for those who grew up in rural middle America versus a dense sprawling city.
Having that empathy can keep us rooted enough to keep us from saying something hurtful to someone we’re supposed to care for.
Plenty of people say they’re listening, but they’re not. How often have you found yourself in the middle of a discussion and you’re chomping at the bit to respond before the other person’s words have settled or even finished coming out of their mouth? This means you’re not truly listening. If you’re not listening, you’re not having a genuine conversation.
Slow down and actually take the words in, specifically when you’re feeling emotional. I recently came across a post that honestly offended me. Instead of responding right away, I waited until the following day to collect my thoughts and responded calmly.
Do me a favor, the next time you’re online and you come across a hotly contested argument on social media, scroll through and see how many questions are actually being ask asked. I guarantee you that there wont be very many genuine questions. People have a tendency to want to be heard as opposed to understanding the why of someone belief.
Ask meaningful questions. This might open up a better understanding and appreciation of the opposing argument. It may also have the added benefit of supplying the other person the opportunity to see holes in their own argument.
Pull People Aside
If someone says something that’s out of line, sometimes the best course is to pull them aside privately. I’ve done this quite a few times with friends. It’s been either something that was said directly to me, or a reply that I saw which I knew was unbecoming of the person that I know them to be. If you’re a friend of mine, my job is to pull your card whenever necessary. I would expect no less if I was out of line, I would expect someone to check me.
No Winners or Losers
While these topics are important and sometimes life and death orientated for many of us, there are no winners and losers in the debate. You’re not going to solve the issue on Facebook. Much like sparring, winning shouldn’t be the focus, learning is the point of the activity.
Too many of our discussions are centered on owning the other person and making them look dumb, while not enough emphasis is applied to the exchange and understanding of ideas. On many occasions I wholehearted disagree with someone on a topic, but understand the why of their stance.
Never Too Late to Apologize
At the end of the day, most things can be forgiven. Individuals have to be adult enough to realize that the words they used were inappropriate or poorly chosen. Yes, we have the freedom to write or speak however we want, but our intent should never be to hurt a friend or training partner. You may not be able to apologize for the stance you have, i.e. if you’re anti-abortion, but you can at least apologize for the way the message was delivered.
A prime example would be name calling, we really have to get away from the practice. Too often words “Racist” and “Libtard” are thrown around without a second thought.
Is This the Best Version of You?
We have to be honest with ourselves. Before you send that angry reply, is it the best version of yourself? Would you or your family be proud of the reply’s tone, choice of words, or message?
If not, reword it or delete it all together. You have a responsibility to yourself to put the best version of you out there. How we conduct ourselves can both open and close doors of future opportunities. Keep this in mind, in everything you do.
I’m on social media a lot. While I might post or reply a ton on Twitter, you would be hard pressed to find a time when I was outright disrespectful with someone (with the exception of my Hulk Hogan Tweet, don’t ask), I never resort to name calling, and I’m generally calm with my responses.
For those of you who are in similar situations as me, where you’ve been offended by a teammate/friend, all we can do is either discuss our feelings with our training partners or ignore and forgive. Understand that not everyone knows what they don’t know, and in many instances, it’s not our responsibility to fix it. So pick your battles, you can’t change every opinion that you come across.
Ultimately, if need be, unfriend or mute people. While you may risk creating an echo chamber for yourself, your peace of mind if far more important in the end. I have friend on both side of most issues because I like hearing different opinions, but some of you are too far into the extremes, and ignorance for myself is sometimes bliss.
Please share and comment. I would love to continue this discussion with each of you.