April 13th, 2018
It seems that we are at a crossroads of great division in politics today. Some people seem to believe that only their voice needs to be heard. Others believe that they deserve your loyalty at the exclusion of all others. You will likely lose friends on either side despite what you choose to believe. At this point, we all need to take stock of what we believe and who our true friends are… And consider what they may ask of us.
When I was young my mother gave me the best advise a child could receive. She said, “Whenever you have two friends that do not like each other, and one tells you that you must choose between them or the other, always choose the other. Because at least the other had enough respect to not ask you to choose.”
This is the attitude we as Liberalists need in this current dilemma, when we discuss important issues, and in the public square. We cannot tolerate any disrespect for our personal intelligence. When we are confronted with differing views, we should reject those who say, “us or them.”
Always side with those willing to let you decide for yourself. Choose those who are willing to listen to you and do not want to label or disparage you. We should never feel obligated to fall in line with those who call us names or label our speech and opinions. Choose friends and allies who let us be ourselves, even if we do not necessarily agree with them.
When we discuss the important issues of our country we must remove all of the taboos associated with them. We need to have a tolerance for disagreement and we must allow contrary opinions to be heard. No one should be forced into choosing a side and no one should be barred from giving their opinion. For example, if we are going to entertain speech about issues such as racial violence, then all speech about all racial violence should be admissible. We need to demand the respect to let every side be heard.
We all need to realize that shutting down offensive speech is not an indictment of offensive speech. It is an indictment of you. People who shut down speech believe that you are too stupid, too uneducated, too uninformed, too lowly, and too unenlightened to be exposed to these “dangerous thoughts”. They say, “You shouldn’t listen. Don’t listen! And if you dare to listen you are a monster for being there and hearing what they had to say!” They may claim that you don’t deserve their friendship! Well, they are correct. You do not deserve such friends. You deserve friends who let you do what you want to do. You deserve friends who let you be who you want to be and do not force you into choosing who your friends are. That is what you deserve.
You know what else you deserve? You deserve the right to stand up for those who have stood up for you. There is going to be that moment where the friend who tried to make you choose realizes that they were the one who got dropped. They are going to retaliate. You deserve that reaction. You deserve that confrontation. You deserve the ridicule and derision of those who sought to control you in the first place. When that fake friend is calling your true friend a racist or a bigot; you deserve the right to defend them. And when they call you names that for defending that true friend, you deserve the right to be inconvenienced for your friend.
We have a curious lack of honest discourse today. From people shouting back and forth, “Nazi, racist, cuck, bigot, fascist, commie…” the list goes on. Some of them genuinely believe these labels; most of them don’t and I honestly can’t decide which one disturbs me more. It needs to end and it won’t end until we decide to have enough respect for ourselves to choose, “the other”. Always choose the option that isn’t forcing you to forfeit your other options. If your cable news channel labels an entire group of people as something with no evidence or facts, choose the other. If your favorite Facebook page slanders a celebrity for a quote taken out of context, choose the other. Choose the other because the other did not insult your intelligence, or ask you to choose. They let you do, be, and say whatever you chose and that was enough for them when it was not enough for the one demanding that you choose them.
We are at a point where every side seems to be asking for a slice of humanity from their followers. There are people, groups, and movements that have been building and working towards a better cause. They are building to let you be you. Their promise is to give you friendships where politics do not matter. Their goal is to let all speak their truth freely.
Choose them as the other. Choose to be where truth can be displayed and glanced upon without anger, deception, or coercion. Your power and your own political activism begins with your friendships. It begins with choosing the other.