Conversation, Silence, or Violence

I heard a brilliant phrase on a podcast last week coined by Alan Levinovitz. He and Joe Rogan were discussing the binary and divisive nature of American politics, and to illustrate Alan’s non-binary ways of thinking about major issues, he stated he feels “politically homeless.”

I couldn’t relate more.

When people ask if I’m liberal or conservative, I have no fucking clue what to say. Depending on the topic, I might lean left or I might lean right.

My centrist nature and love for nuance has resulted in liberal friends unfollowing me on social media, yelling and crying at me in the midst of a disagreement or debate, and people genuinely treating and speaking to me as if I am an immoral person.

My centrist nature and love for nuance has also resulted in conservative friends questioning my intelligence, claiming my emotions will forever cloud any objective ideas, and people genuinely treating and speaking to me as if I am an idiot.

Win win?

This is not to say that I deserve not to have people disagree with me. I’m an idiot when it comes to most things, so I know the world is doing something right if several people disagree with my words and ideas.

Whether a person leans more left or more right on an issue doesn’t really concern me. I don’t think we should care about what a person believes, so much as how they came to and process that belief.

As my ideas and logical/emotional processes have developed over the years, the scariest thing to me has been this: I hate how disagreements on major political and social issues change the way we see even our closest friends. I include myself in this phenomenon.

There’s a time and a place for everything; but it’s disappointing that fear of discomfort or debate or toxic FaceBook comment threads…make friends and family silent; holding their tongue so Grandma doesn’t start going off about Trump again.

I’m no expert (clearly), but it seems to me that the only path forward is true conversation. Listening to those who even vehemently disagree with you, being able to articulate where they are coming from, and learning from them–even if you don’t change your mind.

We all suffer from confirmation bias. We love talking to people and reading what we already agree with, further solidifying our deeply-held beliefs. We hate talking to people and reading what we disagree with, further solidifying our deeply-held beliefs.

This mediocre blog was not meant to attack any particular “side” or belief. However, this is a hill I’m willing to die on. We need more good-faith conversations. It’s between that, silence, or violence. I choose the former.