political toxicity and the great epiphany

About a week ago I read a FB post of a dear friend. This particular guy is a fellow blogger whom I have a lot of respect for. As I prepared to read his post I braced myself for about 800 words that I would only agree with about 100. And that’s OK, I believe it’s good to expose yourself to material you don’t agree with. It’s called being open-minded and I really, truly strive to be just that

Or so I thought.

As it turns out…my self-proclaimed open-mindedness needs some work.

He brilliantly wrote about the Democratic field, his take on who he thinks is his favorite (s) and why. I bristled and bit my tongue as I read it but I kept reading. I disagreed so vehemently, with him and with the candidates and policies in general, that I reacted. I acted hatefully, intolerant and totally out of character. I surprised and embarrassed myself.

In fairness, my response was along the lines of being surprised at his left-leaning tendencies because I have always, mistakenly, thought that he was a moderate. But in the process of composing my response I attacked the candidates he supports. I even made a very unfair gay comment about Mayor Pete. Well, he called me on it. Not just the gay comment but my attacks on the candidates. I was surprised at the fury of his response because, as I said, my overall intent was to question how far left his beliefs were. Having said that, I got what I deserved and more.

I was told that my gay comment was out of line. He was right.

I was told that I was wrong in my assessment of the candidates he endorsed. We’re both right because this is still America.

He told me that I didn’t understand Democratic Socialism, Socialism or Communism. I didn’t agree at all, if nothing else I never speak of something that I don’t know of. I called him on that.

Then came the one thing that I strongly disagreed with, a topic that I didn’t challenge him on, a topic that is instead the topic of this post…he said that I didn’t understand people.

He couldn’t be more wrong.

Here’s the deal. We live in a toxic political environment, one that has permeated almost every crack and crevice in society and we have devolved from disagreement with civil discourse to digging trenches and taking sides. These sides have divided friends, couples and society in general. Now, if you hold a viewpoint that someone disagrees with it is personal and in some cases you are attacked.

As a conservative I have formulated a defensive attitude about my politics because I and people who share my beliefs are being attacked. Daily. It is an absolute true statement that if you support our president than you are believed to be one step away from shaving your head and donning a white hood. When your beliefs are constantly attacked, it is almost impossible not to be defensive. It feels personal and when we are personally attacked we lash out.

Unless we have the ability to control our initial, knee jerk reaction and take a deep breath. I needed to do that and I didn’t. I regret it.

I can’t change today’s political environment but I can change how I react to it.

My friend, if you’re reading this please accept my apology for my unwanted sentiments and I hope you read and appreciate my rebuttal.

I disagree with but respect your opinions. Above all else I respect any informed opinion and deeply believe that our political process requires, dare I say demands differences and a consequent civil exchange of ideas with tolerance of different viewpoints. I truly and profoundly dislike the entire pool of Democratic candidates because they don’t share my vision for my country. For you, they do and I need to respect that. But is it wrong to ask the same of you?

If I may circle back to the comment you made about my not understanding people…I want to thank you for that because it gave me something to think about. My question, after days of pondering it is as follows; is it possible, despite being on exact opposites of the spectrum politically, that in the end we want the same things?

Democrats and Liberals, there was once a distinction but not anymore (change my mind), have always held a grip on being the champions of the poor, the marginalized and downtrodden. I have always disagreed with that, I believe many people of my ilk, the dreaded “conservative” also care deeply about the same demographic.

I know I do.
I want an end to poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
I wish for a stop to endless wars.
I wish everyone had health care
I want a balanced budget and to eliminate the burgeoning deficit.
I wish for an end to institutional racism.

I understand and care about people more than you will ever know.

There are so many issues that our current administration is not addressing but overall, I supported the candidate that most shares my beliefs. This doesn’t, and shouldn’t, disqualify me as a compassionate person. I volunteer at food banks, I help old ladies with their shopping carts, I donate money I don’t have and I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to commit a Random Act of Kindness. So I am curious why my behavior didn’t reflect that. Fortunately, I had an epiphany and I learned once and for all that I need to do and be better.

My friend, I do care about people and I hope that my future behavior supports that. Thank you for putting me in my place. With the exception of the lectures questioning my education level, I got a lot out of it.

At the end of the day, everything is about people. And my, let’s face it, everyone’s politics should be ultimately about people. Regardless of who you support, no one, including myself has the right to tell you that you are wrong. We’re both right, we’re both wrong but we’re all brothers and sisters.

That is one thing that will always be a wonderful thing about this country that we both call home.

24 thoughts on “political toxicity and the great epiphany”

  1. I suspect most people who are square in the middle, like me, aren’t doing cartwheels over the democratic slate of candidates. Speaking for myself, it isn’t necessarily the politics of the current occupant of the White House I object to, although there are many things I don’t like. but it is the man himself, and I don’t think you can separate the two.

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  2. Another post of yours that I enjoyed reading. I’m well aware that we have very different views politically but I’m glad we’re both open minded and willing to listen to other opinions (when formulated with respect). I hope you’re doing well – take care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really am working on it. It’s hard when you’re wired a certain way. It makes you rigid and in my case a bit intolerant and the blogger that I referenced has been a good influence and motivator.
      I’m glad you stopped by my page Monika, did you know that you’re the first blog I followed?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read the exchange of the two of you under this post, really cute how you reconciled (hope you don’t mind me saying that, my use of language is a bit different from yours :D).
        I enjoy stopping by! And no, I didn’t, makes me glad to hear that :)) I’m planning to share more about the queer/non-heteronormative side of my life and maybe projects, kinda curious what you’ll make of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it’s great because you bare your soul when you write of that side of your life. Raw honesty is awesome, I always try for it in my works

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  3. Excuse me for saying, but your vision for this country (your wishes) sounds very liberal to me. You say that you profoundly dislike the Democratic candidates who espouse the same wishes as you so I think your automatic reaction to people talking sense is knee jerk (ie blind devotion) to conservatism. Profoundly dislike? Let that sink in. Doesn’t sound very open minded to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do profoundly dislike the entire field. What I was saying to Tom is that any normal, compassionate person wants those things but it is how we want to accomplish them is very different. I think we all want an end to inequalities, both liberals and conservatives but approaches and methods differ.
      This post was in response to an exchange between Tom and I and when I say open minded, it was a call to myself to work harder at it

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post Billy.
    Do you think if we all tried to have a conversation with people who think, believe or otherwise hold differing opinions WITHOUT using any adjectives (in other words, try speaking without defining someone, pigeonholing someone, categorizing someone, labeling someone), we’d make more headway in, not only conversing but maybe understanding?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. In my defense, the comment about people was prefaced by “probably.” 😉

    Bill, I never questioned your education level. A lot of folks mistake communism, socialism, and democratic socialism, on purpose or out of ignorance. I don’t use that latter word as an insult, ever; ignorance is just a lack of knowledge on a subject, not a slight of intelligence or even learning. I am woefully ignorant on, say, motorcycle maintenance. Don’t know a damn thing about it. I am ignorant in many ways, on many topics, but I do know the difference between communism, socialism, democratic socialism, capitalism, authoritarianism, democracy, Donald Trump, and Bernie. Each idea and person has nuance and each idea and person is independent of each. I have opinions of Donald Trump and Bernie that are very different than yours, that much is an ironclad fact.

    I want the same things you do, you are right. To get those things there will have to be a concerted effort, not just a wish. They won’t and can’t come through “trickle down,” we’ve seen that. It won’t come from destroying unions or cutting taxes on the rich. The market will not sort it out. If we want everyone to have health care, if we want to end poverty, hunger, homelessness, and endless wars, we have to form a plan. And then we have to have the collective political will to enact it. I am here to tell you that the Republican and Democratic parties have no plan for it, and would prefer not to address it at all. What they want is power. And they hate anyone who threatens the good will of citizens over the quest for power. This is why both parties hate Bernie (an independent, like me, who is running as a Democrat).

    Bernie has flaws. Big ones. That’s what I wrote about, when I wavered in my vote. Nobody … nobody … gets the full and unquestioned endorsement of Tom. Everyone gets vetted.

    You came on strong in your response and, as I said at the beginning of my response, I give back what I receive. Courteous disagreement gets courteous disagreement. Vitriol gets vitriol. I mean no disrespect either way but I’ll play the cards to the table. I absolutely PREFER courteous engagement so let’s go back to that. 😁

    I apologize in return. Yours was accepted the moment it was offered, and I haven’t a bad feeling towards you in the least.

    One more thing: the right is always under attack by the left, like you said, but the left is always under attack by the right, too. Everyone, on every side, feels that way all the time. I am different. I am best described as “libertarian left” but I absolutely adore the resolute conservative mind. Each era needs its progressives, to champion the changes society will always need next, and the conservatives, to ensure the evolution of society continues steady apace. Too much progress, too quickly, is just as damaging as being too frozen too long in tradition. We need each other, you and I. We need each other’s ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You had no need to start with “in my defense” brother. My entire post was a tribute to you and how you have helped me reshape my attitude. You didn’t need to rehash the whole thing, I learned in our last exchange that the person who needed an attitude adjustment was me, not you.
      Luv ya my Libertarian Lefty.
      Who else do I dedicate an entire post to?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point, Bojana. Americans lack the context to fully understand the differences in these political and economic philosophies; I didn’t and couldn’t until I shed the programming. I was well into my 30s and early 40s by then, fearing that “socialism” equated entirely to evil, when what I really feared was “authoritarianism” as we have seen in some socialist and communist countries. Socialism as the democratic socialist nations practice — a mix of capitalism and socialism in a primarily democratic venue — has been instituted for the greater good. It’s good socialism. As you have seen, however, even those systems have flaws and will still favor the rich elite over the common person. Still, a social democracy that is heavily capitalist is superior to a capitalist system that barely acknowledges its social responsibilities, such as we have in America today.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes. A mix of healthy capitalism and healthy socialism is a perfect system. When it’s only one, we’ve seen many times, it’s as a rule a flop.
        The socialism I lived in btw, though it collapsed with the country, encouraged both the working and the middle class. It was unimaginable to have filthy rich people back then, the kind we have now in systems that look down on socialism.
        If you had however what we do in Germany (taxing the well-off enormously, free education and health care-mind you, EVERYONE has a health insurance card), you’d, I’m sure, be happier with the presidents you’ve chosen.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I avoid talking sex, religion and politics wherever possible in my blog.
    I have my opinion, and I don’t trust ANY of the candidates in the last UK election. Yes I voted. If I didn’t, I have no right to moan or comment, but I did not vote for the current lot, neither would I vote for the opposition who IMO couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. All they do is shout at each other and make no progress.
    I have worded things badly in a couple of posts in the past and been taken to task over it. And quite rightly so. I could see my error, and apologised for poor presentation as what was understood was not what I meant at all.
    I have received some hot headed responses to a few too, one in particular quite hostile, so I trashed it. and another resulting in a further response respecting my point of view even if it did not tally with theirs.
    We are all different, and we can’t please everyone. Sometimes those that take umbrage forget that. Just thinking……………………..

    Liked by 1 person

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