I recently received an email from a friend, who made some political images.
Told me, “Feel free to share.”
At first, I didn’t consider sharing them, because they do not particularly illustrate my subjective political ideals.
(Without getting too far into it, I’ll just state an observation that it takes two wings for a bird to fly, or zero wings for Superman. The only one-winged being I know who exceled was Sephiroth, and he still got beat down by a rag-tag group of humans despite being able to obliterate the cosmos multiple times within minutes.)
So, here are a couple of images that represent the political understandings of one person in my life.
One person’s understandings are virtually guaranteed to represent similar or nearly identical understandings for several other people.
Which means that lots of so-called liberals think that all so-called conservatives want the United States of America to embrace a destiny of neo-Nazism and return to the days of segregation and worse.
The reason I say so-called liberals and so-called conservatives is because to me, these labels are borderline arbitrary.
The essence of a human beings’ ideals cannot be captured within the label “conservative” any more than the essence of the ocean’s vastness can be captured by putting some seawater in a shot glass.
I know people who identify as conservatives that would probably wince as their head spun in disorientation, at the assumption that because of their political association, they have been deemed someone who embraces genocide and segregation.
I also know there are people out there who do embrace supremacist notions of genocide and segregation. They may fall under the “conservative” blanket too, but they fall at a different place in the spectrum.
But here’s a fact: some people truly believe that all conservatives want a world that’s reflected in the above images.
Another fact is that they have their own reasons for believing that way.
Their concerns will not be assuaged through the demeaning, tumultuous discourse has come to characterize political debates.
Responding to perceived ignorance with spite, only further reinforces the ignorance.
In the case of someone’s assumption that you’re hateful and divisive because of your political ideology, fighting back with contempt will actually only prove the other person’s point (in their mind).
(Because as humans, we’re almost always actively looking for evidence of what we already believe.
If you believe I’m full of blood-lust and you tell me as much, you’ll definitely be even more sure of your claim after I react by ripping your proverbial head off.)
What we need is dialogue.
And thankfully, what I am seeing lately is more dialogue than ever before in my life. About the important things.
My whole life I heard, “Everything is fair game for conversation, except religion and politics.”
Which might just be one of the most harmful memes in society.
Religion and politics are what are most important to many people, deep down.
By blacklisting these topics, we’ve created a damp, dark environment for the fungus of human division to grow undetected.
So we’ve wasted a lot of time gossiping about celebrities, obsessively worrying about body image, and chatting about the weather.
And only discussing religion and politics with those who already agree with us.
And I get why this has happened.
It’s because we had not yet learned how to respect our differences. Vicious ideological battles have seen destroyed friendships, disowned family members, the whole nine yards.
But now many of us are learning that your beliefs and my beliefs do not inherently put us at war with each other.
Our beliefs (perspectives) are more like puzzle pieces. They may not lock directly together, but they fit into the same puzzle.
We may seem far apart, and maybe we are.
But both of our views are valid to the bigger picture.
If I disregard your view as non-essential, it’s like losing a puzzle piece down the register.
I cannot be complete without you, even if my default reactions to your views are boiling blood and spewed insults.
Putting puzzles together can be annoying and time consuming. But when it’s done, you just feel good.
So whether you identify as conservative or liberal, or Christian or agnostic, as black, yellow, red, or white.
Let’s get together, sit under a majestic star-filled sky, and get to know one another.
By doing that, we’ll all get to know ourselves better too.
Also published on Medium.