Remember Why

I had a conversation with a person the other day in regards to the right vs left split in this country, and she started off very negative. We talked a bit, her disparaging the Democrats and Liberals as one big lump of useless humanity for a bit before I let her in on the secret. I’m quite liberal in my views. She would consider me one of “them.” Once she realized that her tone changed a bit, at first, to one of pity, thinking I was indoctrinated. We talked a bit more. As we each pointed out hypocrisies rampant on the right and the left her tone changed ever more towards conciliatory. When we parted company her final thoughts were that people on the left and people on the right, Democrats and Republicans alike, are averse to compromise and it’s blown the whole thing up.

A person nearby told me, after she left, that I was really good at debate.

I shied from that comment. The truth is I’m really good at seeing both sides. Of understanding points of view. I’ve been a hard-line conservative and an unabashed libertarian. Those steps were taken along the way of my evolution. I don’t call myself a Liberal – I avoid casting and accepting labels – and I’m not a registered member of any party. What I do have is a really open mind. I’m eager to learn. My willingness to learn with an open mind is how I grew from a Christian in my teens to an agnostic as an adult. From a jingoistic conservative in my twenties to a global-thinking progressive in my 40s. I’m 50 now, and I am still learning.

But that doesn’t mean that I disdain those who have found comfort in their worldviews. Change is never easy; growth is hard and becomes ever harder as we grow older. But whether liberal or conservative in preference, no person should buy into the rhetoric being spewed by purveyors of hate. All liberals do not want to kill babies. All conservatives are not Nazis. We all know that. I know that we all know that because I talk to people. Not at them, with them. And once we break through the talking points, the gut reactions, I always find out that people more or less like other people and respect them, even if they vehemently disagree with their worldviews.

I think the woman I spoke to and I were both better off at the end of our conversation. Because we talked. Because we listened. We don’t have to be divided by our personal philosophies and we should never want to live under the tyranny of one extreme or the other. We should meet in the middle, whenever we can. Find common ground.

There is world aplenty for all of us.

On this day, which is the 27th of May in the year 2019 – Memorial Day in America – we serve best those who served us by remembering that they died not for the ideals of the left or the ideals of the right but for the ideals of universal liberty and human equality. For the freedoms we are guaranteed. The freedom of each of us to practice whatever religion we believe. To speak our minds, assemble, and express ourselves peaceably. To disagree with our government when we believe it has done wrong. To pursue happiness in the manner we see fit.

Those are ideas worth commemorating, worth fighting and dying for. Your ideals, and the ideals of your presumed political adversary, as well. A nation cannot be great without compromise. Humanity cannot endure or prosper without compassion. So listen. Listen and empathize. It’s amazing what we learn when we do.

36 thoughts on “Remember Why

      1. That’s a fascinating perspective. People can be so petty, but a lot of that, I think, is because they are caught in that “gut reaction” thing. It’s the same phenomena that makes people on-line or behind the wheel so much more aggressive than they are when I meet them personally. We are, after all, only human, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Well said.
    One thought came to mind as I read your article: It is how a person interprets and either embraces or rejects change that we classify them in relation to our own views of change.

    Those who reject change I generally categorize as conservative.
    Those who embrace it — progressive. That is:
    β€’ To conserve or contain.
    β€’ To progress or expand.

    And with such a classification system, one word seems to encompass the concept of change: Science.
    Empirical Science strives: at its very core, to impartially expose the evidence of existence. Evidence which (generally) self-corrects through change.

    β€’ Those who reject the evidence that science has to offer, I generally classify as conservative — those unwilling to change due to fear, dogmatic belief, cultural pressures or lower raw intelligence levels.
    β€’ Those who embrace the evidence science offers are those, I tend to believe to be progressive — open minded, willing to change, self-assured in the fact that who they are is not defined by a set of fixed beliefs. And generally those of a higher raw intelligence level.

    Let’s face it, change can be scary. Change can take away your job and livelihood (think automation and robots) your power (think Galileo and the Church) your home (think floods and fire, or gentrification or immigrants) or your culture (think every indigenous tribe on the planet). So sure, change can be viewed as a threat. Or it can be viewed as an opportunity.

    The bottom line is that change, through scientifically gathered and vetted data, may threaten your world view. Presented by such information, there will be those who would rather conserve the past than progress towards the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a thoroughly amazing response, Anony! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

      It’s true, conservatism attempts to “keep things as they are,” or return things to the state they were in a (largely mythical) former time. Liberalism attempts to move things forward towards a (often mythical, as well) more Utopian future. I don’t know if you read my last piece, but I touched on that there, as well. But I also pointed out that the long arc of history lends itself towards a more progressive landscape, and often what we think of as liberalism yesterday is the conservative day today. More than anything, coming to understand that – history in general – lends itself to the evolution of the liberal mind.

      Thank you for a great response, and for taking my meanderings, expanding upon them, and making them better. There is nothing I like better than getting a person to think and then that person returning the favor!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well said, and you’ve reminded me of why it irks me when politicians of any stripe are sometimes criticized for changing their positions. In an ideal world we’d all make decisions objectively and logically based on the information we have–but even then the decision we make might not be the right one because there could be information we’re not aware of.
    Needless to say we don’t live in such an ideal world–I know I don’t always make decisions based on all the information I have even when I should–but I actually find it reassuring when someone says they’ve changed their mind based on something new they’ve learned, or even because circumstances have changed.
    The freedom to change is at least as important as all other freedoms.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As Keynes is often quoted as saying: “When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?” Whether he said it or not it’s true; new information alters perception. We are simple beings, descended from apes (a fact some still dispute), on a round planet (a fact some still dispute), floating in an infinitely large universe (a fact some still dispute) unnoticed by higher beings (an opinion in great dispute). Our natural state is to not have all the facts. So we make conjectures, listen to others, fall back on tradition, or otherwise make up our minds based on what we know at any given time. As we learn more we adapt to new evidence, or ignore it completely and stay stubbornly with our (now-mistaken) core beliefs.

      Whether Keynes said the above, or Churchill said it as Romney mistakenly believed, the truth is that as facts change, I personally change my mind. What do you do, sir? πŸ˜‰

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  3. That’s awesome. My talks never go that well but I think I start off pretty rough. I try not to. I use to be more conservative too, when I was in my early 20s. I can see both sides, depending on the subject. It’s crazy how divided our country is right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s maddening, to be sure. The rise of talk radio through the 90s, the changes in news programming and what is allowed since the 80s, and the advent of the internet have created a great deal of polarization. Even the European elections last week showed us a great divide: the middle right and the middle left were both big losers. What I’m asking for might be impossible, and the time of the moderate thinker may be passe, but I hope not. Too much is at stake. Thank you, Casey!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great post. You said it perfectly, so there’s no real reason for me to babble on…

    Politics seems to me to almost always to be a lousy reason not to get along with someone. I mean, unless I’m running for office against you or actively part of some political campaign, who cares? If I’m not active, then it’s… like a soap opera or sports team thing.

    Relationships are more important than the infinitesimal chance I’m going to convert someone to my fringe point of view anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sports team analogy is so apt. I see it everyday on Facebook, with the Dems and the Pubs calling out each other’s bullshit and not realizing the only difference is in the titles. Hypocrites, they both call each other, never realizing that calling out one politician for their lies on one side is the height of hypocrisy in and of itself. And folks are just plain crazy online and completely different in person. So strange. Me, I’m just as dumb in real life as I am on the internet. πŸ˜‰

      Thank you for your thoughts and the great compliment, Harry. Viva la fringe!

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  5. I can never understand why people divide themselves behind such hard lines, like a politician or a political party is their own personal Jesus and if they criticize them, it’s some kind of blasphemy. At any rate, I’d say Happy Memorial Day, although I perceive that it’s a pretty solemn occasion for some people (we have our own Remembrance Day in Canada in November, but I’m with you in spirit).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it’s supposed to be a somber occasion but I’m a firm believer that we can still enjoy our days while honoring the dead. I guess it falls into line with the whole “celebration of life” over the “funeral dirge” thing. πŸ˜‰

      With folks, though, I think it’s the ol’ tribal urge coming on; we all feel better when we belong to a larger group, and it helps to clarify our perspectives. I get it. It just ought not be so nasty.

      And now that it’s over, Happy Tuesday! It’s the second day of the week so I’m sure you’ve only encountered three weird things so far. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wish everyone could read this Tom. I could cry out loud because of what’s happening to my beloved UK. After so much talking, the divisions seem deeper than ever and regardless of what happens now, the damage done will take years and years to repair. It’s consuming us, it’s dominating every waking hour. It’s already wasted so much time and money and somehow it keeps getting worse. Politicians and citizens are so entrenched. If only they read your blog! Sorry to use your post to sound off, my nerves are frayed and my heart is breaking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My blog is yours to use as you wish! It’s sad what has happened in your great country; the divisiveness that has tarnished the world in the information age is apparent nowhere so much as there. It breaks my heart, too. It is my hope and belief that this is the time not of endings but of transitions. The truth is we don’t yet know what to do with all the information at our fingertips, flooding our cyber-waves. We are not ready to process what we learn, or what it thrown at us daily. So we divide into camps, letting pockets of group-think replace our own analytical processes. But we will learn from this, we humans, and we will grow. It may be ugly for a bit, it is really ugly right now, but great tomorrows come from the painful lessons of today. Stay hopeful, my friend. We will persevere!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes! Good god, YES to all of it. When did discussion become a cuss word??? Learning become obsolete? Standing together as a nation united to allow expression of individuality become a sin??? Reblogged on Stone in the Road. Thanks, Tom, this was brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kim, for sharing! No notion on the planet is dearer to me than this one and the only “friends” I’ve ever dropped, or discussions I’ve ever stopped, are when folks can’t be reasonable, won’t listen to opposing views, or simply get nasty and personal in their rebuts. All three of those tend to be traits of the same type of person and it’s the type of person we can all do without. Thanks again for sharing, Kim, and for the uplifting response!

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  8. This post is timely for me. I have a hard time with some of your posts because they’re thoughtful and well written and your goodness shows through. BUT, you and I have very different world views and politics and I sometimes feel, as I do in many circles, that I’m being attacked by you. By your admission that you see both sides I am encouraged that should I choose to debate you, you would be fair minded. But I suspect we will never agree. But I know we will respect each other

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    1. That’s a fair assessment, my friend, as I know I tend to be rather biting in my analysis of Donald Trump and his most ardent followers. Know that it is never meant to insult you but I will take your words to heart and choose my own more carefully. We are all, after all, but humans who love what we love and believe what we believe. Thank you for that honest response; you’ve made me look at me more closely. ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. your looking at things honestly has never been the issue. I am not afraid of your politics because it is your world view and it is honest and your intentions are good. It’s difficult to be a conservative today. Myself, I am a supporter of a lot of things our president is doing yet I have a lot of problems with the man. But everywhere I go I get called a hateful bigot. You know that’s not me.
        Write to your audience, I can handle it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know it’s not you. Even when I do get invective, which I try not to but even I get angry at times, my invective is aimed at those who blindly follow the man, not his politics. The odious character of the president is evident to me, has been since long before he thought to run, and any attempt to paint him as a “saint, delivered to America by God,” or as “the first honest president” (both terms I’ve seen used numerous times) appalls me. Again, I know that’s not you. I love conservative thought. I think the ideas of conservatism, in any era, are as important as the ideas of liberalism; we must protect what we have built just as we must push to evolve yet further. I have no problem with conservatives, but I do have a tremendous disdain for blind allegiance, intolerance, and hateful identity politics. I will always preach what I believe, I assure you, but I will try to restrain the invective. πŸ™‚

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