Writing and speaking on political issues (any issue for that matter) has taught me one valuable lesson:
I am not always right.
If I can enter any discussion with that in mind, I would probably find myself right more often…if that statement makes any sense.
While writing on tough and divisive issues in a very polarized political environment, have been slapped with a dose of reality and perspective. I am a constitutional conservative, politically speaking…but I am much more than that. You may be a liberal, moderate, conservative, or undecided, and you are more than that as well. I started my show with the notion that everyone should believe exactly the way I do. Of course, I didn’t really say it that way or consciously think that, but that’s basically how I felt. Over the past few weeks, people who have read and heard me speak have reached out to share their thoughts and experiences. Some in nicer ways than others, but all appreciated. From reading and listening to people, I found a common thread on both sides of political issues.Today's political discourse is fueled by real sense of fear! Click To Tweet
People are not stupid. People are afraid. This fear comes from experience, real and completely justified fear from what is happening today in society, ignorance or not understanding issues (I often fall into this trap), and many other reasons, I’m sure. The paradigm for me is that starting from a point that others are afraid of something opens my heart to understanding. If I shoot down those fears as “unjustified” I am only fueling the anger that exists. I am dehumanizing the struggle of others and will never do any good. It is possible to empathize with the fears of people I don’t agree with or even understand. This is not a “selling out” of my principles.
There are right and wrongs on both sides of issues. There are very few absolutes (although there are some), and very few clear-cut answers to society’s problems. Even the founding fathers argued over issues that are “sacred” to the American way of life. In this week’s audio, I discuss two paradigm shifting (for me at least) articles. The first is Federalist 1 by Alexander Hamilton and the 2nd is an Op Ed by Glenn Beck in the New York Times.
Alexander Hamilton is speaking in support of ratifying the Constitution. He shares some insights specific to the argument of the day as well as some that transcend. He ultimately argues for a “vigorous government” vis a vie the Federal form of government espoused by the constitution versus the confederacy (or weak connection between separate nation-states) as the surest way to ensure the safety and liberty of the people. That discussion is better left for another day. What I took in context of understanding those I disagree is stated best by him:
“So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question.” [I added the italics and bold]
He suggests that we might moderate our thoughts when we (I) feel like I am right all the time. Here is a man arguing for the future of America. He believes that the future liberties and ultimately the nation itself hinges on ratification of the Constitution. Yet, he pauses to understand that “wise and good men” are on both sides of the issues.
He further argues against personal attacks and demonizing each other:
“For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.”
With that being stated, he warns that the opposition will in fact use these techniques and will ultimately be a threat to liberty:
“To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.”…
“An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”
I read from this that this technique of discourse leads to a battle of “populist” beliefs that ultimately leads us in to the arms of a despot. I think we can all agree we don’t want that.
The second article is the Glenn Beck Op Ed on Black Lives Matters. I read the article in its entirety on the audio. Upon listening and not condemning he states:
“My point about empathy is especially pressing today, since these movements and others — the Tea Party, the Bernie Sanders campaign, Occupy Wall Street — share similar grievances: In their own ways, they say: “I am not being heard,” “I don’t feel like I belong anymore,” “I have no control over my future.” I am not placing all of these movements on the same footing in terms of my personal position, nor am I suggesting that, because I find them to be analogous, they are equal. But there are, in my opinion, strong commonalities, both good and bad.”
People are hurting and want to be heard.
Beck urges us:
“[to] listen to one another, as human beings, and try to understand one another’s pain. Empathy is not acknowledging or conceding that the pain and anger others feel is justified. Empathy is acknowledging someone else’s pain and anger while feeling for them as human beings — even, and maybe especially, when we don’t necessarily agree or understand them.
Again, that’s different from empathizing with self-interested insiders and instigators. Just as I suggest a concerted effort at empathy, we must also stand together to confront the nefarious elements within our movements with equal fervor.”
“We are a country in trouble, and we have only one way out: reconciliation. We must follow the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and method and move away from a pursuit of “winning” and toward reclaiming our shared humanity. We cannot reconcile with those who want to tear up the Constitution or those who want blood in the street. But we can and must reconcile of our own free will with our neighbors and friends.”[I added the italics and bold]
Beck draws a very agreeable line in the sand. Unless we are tearing up the Constitution or killing each other in the street, there is still hope at reconciling. I cannot, you cannot, we cannot reconcile with Black lives Matter, The Republican Party, The Democratic Party, Hollywood, The ALT Right, or any other “group”, we can however reconcile with Bob, Joe, and Suzy. These “groups” are just groups. The people within these groups are what matters. We can look at each person (even if one at a time) and understand, love, and reconcile, even if we disagree on some issues.