I usually try to stay away from politically charged issues. I’m a terrible debater, and I tend to start to sympathize with every heartfelt argument I hear. But we recently lost readers on the blog because of a political position and I feel it needs to be addressed.
I’m not writing this in support of either side of any issue, and I don’t want to see polemics in the comments. Rather, I want to talk about how to get along with and listen to people whose outlooks seem wrong, even abhorrent.
Controversial issues don’t go away because someone slings mud at the other side. You don’t convince people of either your position or your righteousness by listing facts, especially if those facts come from suspect sources, or from sources with a clear agenda. Even more so when they’re accompanied by name-calling.
Murder doesn’t stop because it’s illegal; wars don’t stop even if they never solve anything. I’m very very liberal politically, and grew up in a household that shunned organized religion. I’m about as different from the mainstream as it gets. And yet I am close to many, many people on the religious Right, and with whom I violently disagree on nearly every political issue. (Yes, I said it–some of my best friends are conservatives. sigh) I have come around to some so-called conservative viewpoints because I’m not afraid to listen, and because I simply don’t argue. Speak your piece, but don’t hit me over the head with it. I listen better when I’m conscious.
I believe in Sisterhood. Brotherhood. Community. I believe that taking sides means you stop listening. I believe that the great issues of our day–war, gun violence, epidemic disease, environmental degradation, poverty, racism–have solutions. I even think that everyone knows what the solutions are, and that we all pretty much agree.
But we allow ourselves to be co-opted into a system that rewards the people already insulated from all of these issues. We let the system define liberals as naive and conservatives as ignorant. We allow ourselves to be convinced that the “other side” is “evil” and often by the very people who are robbing us of our treasure and our freedom even as we drink the koolaid they are offering. We refuse to read what the other side says; we refuse to acknowledge that any part of what it says is valid. We even change positions if the “other side” starts finding common ground. We let a system that doesn’t exist to support, if I may, the 99%, divide us with wedge issues rather than helping us deal with root causes.
I am your sister, whatever my beliefs. We live on this earth together, and it’s the only one we have. If you’re going to fight, make sure you’re fighting with the person who wants to hold you down, and not just with the one who disagrees with you.