I had a rather unique day yesterday. I spent the morning until early afternoon running and competing in a local IDPA pistol shooting match. Lot’s of SJW jokes and general cheeriness about the results of the recent election. I spent the evening participating in a live podcast from a community contemplative center that among other things teaches people how to protest for social just causes. Lots of libertation theology and dreariness for the results from the recent elections.
So my days go. I seem to bounce back and forth between these two groups, generally enjoying the company of both while at the same time cringing (inside at least) when some things are said out loud by either. Being accepted by both but not completely self-identifying with either. Life just seems much more complicated, or perhaps taking a positive spin, more nuanced than those labels to me.
One thing I have observed is that while each of those groups are quick to label the other, they are subconsciously just as quick to label themselves. They see all the bad in the other label and all of the good in their own. The probelm with these labels is that they are a shortcut and one I think we would do well to dispose of, but it will come at a cost.
We would be better without the left / right labels (and their near synonyms) because it would force us to ask questions of each other and of ourselves. Questions about what we really believe and more importantly why. Questions about issues instead of identity. Questions of values and principles instead of who did what to whom.
The cost we have to pay if we are going to drop these labels seems high. We have to be willing to spend a lot of our only true commodity: time. Time with ourselves to figure out what we really think (and again, why we think that). It’s far easier to select the number 5 combo meal on the left and the number 4 combo meal of the right than come up with something on our own for our own reasons. We have to be willing to spend time with others to listen without judgement about what they think and why. It’s far easier to not engage and stick with our own tribe in the eternal echo chamber. We have to be accepting of the small death that comes with accepting the fact that we might have been wrong about something and the rebirth of establishing a better model of the world in our minds through dialog.
Us and them is easy. “What do you think about…?” followed by authentic listening is hard.
I live between what you both perceive as different worlds and I can tell you that they aren’t nearly as different as you think. Reach out to them and find out for yourself. The clock is ticking.