Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don't Hate

English: A map of the average margins of victo...
average margins of victory in the past five presidential elections. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have a lot of conservative friends, most of whom are honest, genuine people who only want to make the world a better place. I have many liberal friends that I would describe in exactly the same manner. In fact, I can blend in quite nicely with either crowd. I expect some of my liberal friends would be surprised to find out how conservative I am on some issues. Similarly, I expect many of my conservative friends would be flabbergasted to learn that I lean liberal quite often.

I don't think this assessment speaks to my political elasticity as much as it speaks to the political egocentrism of so many liberals and conservatives. A lot of the politically opinionated folks I know surround themselves with like-minded people, and articulate their doctrines as if nobody could possibly think differently than they do.

I must admit to a certain level of hypocrisy, though. Although I won't back down from a good debate once it is initiated, my innate tendency is to avoid conflict. For that reason, I allow my silence to be interpreted as agreement when I really shouldn’t. I'm working on this. But it is a balancing act between being absolutely truthful all the time (hard and dangerous work) and being comfortable and friendly (easy and safe work).

From my unique perspective as a centrist, I notice that both groups too often assume the worst about the other. Each group thinks the other is morally corrupt and downright dangerous, not just wrong about the issues. I'd like for people to start assuming that the other side is simply wrong about the issues, and only arrive at the “morally corrupt and downright dangerous” characterizations if the given individual deserves it.

I'm not saying everyone should be a moderate like me. I'm so open minded sometimes that I'm afraid my brains will fall out. But I am saying everyone needs to be respectful of others, and resist the urge to personally demonize those who see the world differently.

Advertising by political candidates and mainstream media coverage of politics only serve to further whip us into a frenzy of extremism. But that's a subject for another blog post.

I’ll make this plea here. No matter how much you may differ with the political philosophies of the party at the opposite end of your spectrum, please don't assume that their motives are insincere. Everyone I know wants to make the world a better place – a more just, fair, happy, and prosperous world for everyone. If we all accepted this notion then political discourse would become more civil, and real work could be accomplished.

Think about it.
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  1. I don't hide the fact that I'm a liberal; however, many of my friends are conservative. If the conversation shifts into the political arena, we carefully steer it back to neutral ground.
    One day, a conservative friend (and a bit of a ditz) called me with an invitation to join her on a political venture. I reminded her that I was in the opposite camp. She laughed and said, "Oh well, I love you anyway!"
    Wish it could always be that simple!

  2. Dropping in to say I agree with this post. Well put.

  3. Muffie,

    It seems that your friend, and you for that matter, have already figured this out!


    Thank you sir.