I can’t be the only one who feels like shit is more than a little out of control…like we’re just one terrorist attack – or one viral outbreak – or one economic collapse away from utter chaos.
And I am confused by my emotions. Because I simultaneously loathe society but find myself inspired by people. I detest all the hate-speech on social media but I love the connectedness it provides. I am disgusted by the large news outlets but I crave understanding.
So I have one very real question. When did it become okay to not validate anyone’s opinion because it is different from yours?
The divisiveness in this country has reached a fever pitch. And it’s pissing me off. We’re buying the rhetoric and it’s tearing us apart.
The news. Facebook. Twitter. All you see and hear is how it’s the whites against the blacks. The Christians against the gays. The Democrats vs. the Republicans. The rich vs. the poor. The Americans vs. the world. Pro life vs. pro choice. The gun owners against the gun control advocates.
It’s rhetoric. It’s being put into our water like fluoride and we’re drinking it. But if we could stop and think…really think. We are always more alike than we are different. The divide between belief systems is not the chasm we’ve been led to believe.
But back to my question.
One of my oldest friends is incredibly liberal and I’m a moderate conservative. She and I have some of the most enlightening discussions because we listen to each other. We don’t change each other’s minds or positions but I know that, for me anyway, I come away with a better understanding of her beliefs. I thought understanding was the goal? Something to strive for? When did we abandon that ideal?
I try to stay a-political because I’m never willing to fight the militants who simply want to beat you into submission (as though yelling at me over social media is going to change my beliefs), but I’m going to break that rule today.
I am a Republican who supports gay marriage. I have Mormon family members who do not. But I respect their viewpoint. Why is it so hard to understand that people who fundamentally believe in the bible will struggle with this? They have a belief every bit as sacred to them as a gay person’s belief that they should be able to marry. That doesn’t make them evil for opposing it. (And for the record, I actually believe the government has no business marrying anyone. Separation of church and state, my ass. This whole fight was over religious ideologies. The government should only grant civil unions which confer legal rights relating to taxes, insurance, property and the like. “Marriage” should have been left to the churches. Then religions that opposed it could refuse to grant them, but there would always be churches that would approve. This had no place on the political stage.)
Moving on. I’m a gun-owner who understands the argument for gun-control. This is a very difficult topic without simple solutions. But the anger people fling at each other on social media for having an opinion is ridiculous. Just because you have guns and want to keep them doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about the very real problem in this country.
I am pro-life but believe in exceptions, first and foremost being the health of the mother. And I also know dozens of women who have had abortions. And I don’t judge them. The belief about when life begins is something so deeply ingrained in a person that we can all talk until we’re blue in the face and not change a single opinion. (If you’ve never read the case of Roe v. Wade, you should. It is actually a wonderfully written opinion about a very difficult subject. I read it in law school and was surprised – it wasn’t what I thought it was after hearing the case name thrown around in all the pro-life/pro-choice debates.) Point being, those beliefs go deep. I may not agree with them, but I understand them.
Bottom line. Not all Christians are against gay marriage. Not all bigots are white. Not all gun-owners are rednecks. Not all republicans are religious. Not all cops are racist. The overgeneralization is out of control.
You’re not enlightened if you are shutting down opposing viewpoints. Aren’t the wisest people the ones that can see from all sides?
If people opened their minds again – they would realize that the chasm is not that wide – we aren’t that different. If more people moved toward the aisle, we might actually get a moderate president instead of the extremist options we have who feel the need to pander to their right and left wing bases. The base should be closer to the middle – where you actually have a 360 degree view.
I know. I’m being naïve. But a girl can dream.
Until then, this will continue to be my moment of zen.