As a rule, I will not be writing about politics here. I don’t follow the news and I don’t read about politics. I’ve even unsubscribed from all of my Facebook friends to avoid seeing any hyper-emotional articles, arguments, or rants. I’ve found it triggers my anxiety and causes way more trouble than it’s worth. I receive my news in small, controlled doses from trusted family and friends, or specific, targeted searches from multiple news sources to try to minimize media bias.
Anyway, I was happily reading an article about pancakes today, in which the author suddenly referred to President Trump as “a living toilet.“
Uhm. Excuse me? This article is about pancakes, sir.
This guy took a break in the middle of his breakfast-themed writing to dehumanize someone he doesn’t even know. I’m not exactly sure why he felt the need or the freedom to do this. Maybe he was just pandering to his normal audience, or maybe he was trying to shock his way into being talked about (in which case, it worked). I was baffled so much, that here I am, writing about it.
Just as quickly as he dropped in an unsolicited, unexpected low-blow insult at another human being, I lost interest in what he had to say about pancakes. He’d destroyed any credibility that he had regarding his personal opinion about pancakes. Why would I listen to anything someone so intentionally spiteful has to say? No thank you.
We have a problem in our country, or maybe our world. We chastise the “other side” for being cruel and polarizing and use that as an excuse to be cruel and polarizing. I’ve noticed more and more that it’s seeping into non-political writing, reporting and conversations. It’s maddening to me. I’m fine with strong opinions, I have a lot of them. Cruelty doesn’t equal strength.
I am not affiliated with either side of the aisle. I did not vote for President Trump or Hillary, nor do I particularly like either one of them. I dislike a lot about both of the big political parties in the US, and I think that the government and the election process are so corrupt that when I vote, I do so with a skeptical “well, just in case it does anything, I guess I’ll participate” attitude. I have very little faith in the process.
I lean towards Libertarianism but have a firm understanding that all forms of government, even the absence of one, are flawed because humans are flawed.
I am a Libertarian because I am an independent thinker, and I want to be left to my own devices. I want other people to be left to their own devices as well. As long as no one is stepping on other people’s liberty, or actively hurting people or animals, I think that’s how it should be. The government should be small and quiet, only called into action in extreme cases. Politics should be simple. Alas, that isn’t reality.
The core of my political belief lends itself to allowing everyone to have their own opinion, and respecting that freedom. I wish this was common.
Instead, it’s common for us to allow ourselves, and those we align ourselves with, to be nasty, often resorting to dehumanizing name-calling, bullying, and sometimes vandalism or violence. I am familiar with the
reasons excuses that people have and I’m not impressed.
“Republicans are rich racists and ignorant hillbillies who don’t care about immigrants, minorities, or the environment.“
“Democrats are communists who want to steal our liberty, brainwash our youth, and kill babies.”
Because what they consider to be right or moral or “common sense” is in direct opposition to what we believe, we permit ourselves to dehumanize them. We can preach peace and kindness and fairness, but the second someone disagrees with our ideals or methods, we’re allowed to throw it all out the window and start slinging mud. I believe that’s called bigotry, my friends.
I believe all humans have intrinsic value because we are all made in the image of God; Imago Dei. Even if you don’t believe that, I’m sure you believe that there is something that connects us all and gives us value. Otherwise, murder should be legal.
I recognize the fact that both Hillary Clinton (or Joe Biden, I suppose, at this point) and Donald Trump are human beings. I’m sure they’ve all done horrible, nasty things that would make my hair curl. They’re still humans, and they still have value and worth and are entitled to basic respect, decency, and dare I say it, love because they have intrinsic value. Even if they don’t extend that respect to others, they still deserve it.
Now, their decisions and actions, I don’t have to respect. Those do not have intrinsic value. Those I can criticize and scrutinize. Actually, since these people have chosen to live public lives and be leaders, scrutinizing their actions is responsible.
We can’t pick and choose which humans do and do not have worth. We cannot choose when to ignore the intrinsic value. When we do that we end up with horrific events like The Crusades, The Holocaust, and 9/11.
I know the root of these insults runs deeper. People get overwhelmed by emotion, or pride, and don’t know how to communicate peacefully. I also don’t think that’s a valid excuse. We need to start holding the media and our friends and family responsible for how they dehumanize our fellow humans and encourage them to instead focus on the deplorable actions.
In the meantime, I hope someday I can go back to reading about pancakes in peace. Someday.
Until next time. Please be kind.