Monday, November 14, 2016

Labels Cause Division - Enough is Enough

I used to speak very openly against harsh racist/sexist rhetoric. It seemed that anyone and everything was called racist or sexist even in many cases that hadn't a shred of evidence. Mentioning so only ever proved my "white privilege" in the eyes of those spewing such rhetoric. I would then be called racist and sexist myself trying to disguise myself as an advocate of equality. I tried to fight on the side of reason and understanding and it yielded only false accusations and hate in my direction. I remember it being quite frustrating and even to the point of anger. I wrote out a detailed record of my upbringing showing just how much integration and non-racism I grew up with here in hopes to prove my lack of racism and worthiness to have an opinion:

At some point, however, I gave in. I decided that even though I cannot see the racism around me due to my "privilege" (despite hating the use of that word in such a way), it must indeed still be a problem elsewhere. Riots and shootings and what-have-you showed the racial tensions and proved that it was a problem. I decided that indeed we need to do more and just maybe I was wrong about it not being a huge deal. I drank the same Kool-Aid as all the other progressives and noted every external racial injustice as proof of the tensions that I could not personally see. Part of this switch had a lot to do with the fact that I clearly identify Republicans as wrong about so many other things--so why not assume they're likely wrong about this issue too? Further, I saw Trump's victory as solidifying it. Clearly he was a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot and therefore so much of the country must be fine with this and we obviously have a problem.

But what is the truth? The truth can be extremely difficult to determine. There clearly is some kind of tension and problem, but where does it truly stem from? I found myself labeling Trump supporters as racist, sexist, xenophobes for even contemplating Trump for president. I became one of the very people that I tried discrediting for so long. But why? Because of the media I consumed. I saw so much rhetoric about Trump's racism and sexism that I could not see it any other way. It became so obvious to me that I could not fathom anyone being so awful of a person as to vote for him. The media convinced me so thoroughly of Trump's incompetence that it polarized my view against him and his supporters. I became quite angry to the point of wishing I had someone or something to lash out against. In short, the media took away my reason and turned me into one of the illogical zombies I used to try to reason with.

Which got me thinking... How much of the tension we see today is actually due to the media trying to prove a problem exists? If they make enough people convinced and angry, it will create a bigger problem itself. It made me angry, hateful, and spiteful when before I was being very careful, collected, and thoughtful while seeing both sides of issues. Minority groups are absolutely terrified now due to Trump's win and whose fault is that? The media made him out to be such a racist that we expect him to deport and destroy all minorities and let the KKK rise up and rule our country. Their fear and our compassion for them now leads us to hate and violently protect or protest. It makes us want to make our own voice louder and more clear and fight the "haters." I imagine that many of the anonymous acts of hate and vandalism in the name of Trump might very well be leftists trying to make him look worse and "prove" just how bad Trump and his followers are. There's really no way of knowing, but that doesn't stop us from point the finger with accusatory labels.

So what is the truth? I can't really say. I only know my own little bubble and the rhetoric I hear from the media. The media might be creating its own problems, so it's hard to truly trust what I see. Clearly there is some kind of problem, but the root cause is far too intricate and complicated for me or anyone to comprehend from their home. In such a regard, perhaps it is best that I simply mind my own business. The racism going on in Ferguson, for example, has nothing to do with me. The racism in my own home town (which seems non-existent where I live) is my own business which apparently needs little to no change. If I worry about my own and everyone else worries about their own, then perhaps we can better get down to truth. Those in Ferguson know exactly what's going on in Ferguson and only they can make it better. But even for them, I wonder how much they're feeding on the media to make them disproportionately angry or even making the police disproportionately fearful. We're not seeing things through our own lenses but through the lenses of a hyped and hysterical fear-mongering media.

The concept of keeping to self actually scares me, however, since I don't want to ignore the plight of others. But without full knowledge, I could just as easily make matters worse rather than improving them. If I want to help Ferguson, I should probably move to Ferguson. As it is, I do not live there and I should probably focus on my own affairs. This is probably best seen as a general concept, however, rather than a hard-fast rule. Things like Global Warming affect everyone everywhere and I certainly cannot see it here in my little corner. This, however, has some clear data. Temperature averages are entirely objective. Amount of racism is entirely subjective. So if I see something racist or sexist, it becomes my responsibility to stop that crap in its tracks, but if I don't see it, I can't hardly think any longer that I need to personally do something.

The fact is, the world is filled with people and unfortunately, lots of people suffer. I cannot solve every problem and likely I cannot personally solve any problem. I have the greatest chance only at home. On top of this, there are those who clearly use our compassion for their own gains who create companies and organizations to fuel our flames and take our money when we try to help. By getting so inflamed and trying so hard to advocate for these "poor souls" that we know nothing about, we very well might be creating more problems than we resolve. If we want to support such causes because it seems better than doing nothing, then fine, but we should probably leave the anger, hate, and rhetoric out of it. I think we're being played, and the rich are benefiting from our fighting against one another. If we're truly concerned about people, then we should first concern ourselves with our tongues and how we treat those around us. We know very little of what we think we know, and others think they know things quite differently than what we think we know. It is nearly impossible to judge. So we should focus on kindness all around and fix what is in our immediate field of view. In such a way, we are far less likely to be controlled by media and become a pawn of hate and division.

All that said, I'm really still wondering about Trump. There were so many things that pointed to him as a terrible person and the only thing I even know about Hillary were her emails to which she had been thoroughly examined and found entirely innocent. But again, that's just the media I watch. I know for a fact that there were far worse things mentioned when Bernie was running against her. My memory is simply too short to remember what those were. She is just as much "the man" as any politician before her and Trump is anything but. He may be a terrible person in many ways, but he's not "the man" as far as we know. In such a way, I'm rather interested in what will truly happen. Will he fill the role that everyone is crying about? Or will he actually do something to break our corrupt system? Who knows. And with the media I see, it's awfully hard to tell. As it is now, they're continue their rhetoric that he's assigning white nationalists and whatever else into power and we should all fear for our lives and the lives of minorities. But again, the left is quite prone to false labels and over exaggeration. So I don't know what to believe anymore. They cried wolf too many times and my ears are beginning to ignore such cries.

At any rate, no matter how terrible Trump is or might be, I take comfort in remembering that the vast majority of people who voted for him did so for legitimate reasons and concerns beyond hate. And if the other half of the country can't see that, then I'm going to have to say that they, themselves, are the problem. But if they can see it, then we have a platform for common ground. We need to stop fighting each other and instead start agreeing everywhere we see the chance to agree. If we do that, then Trump doesn't matter at all. The people will rule and Trump will follow. We have a lot of people who care, but they need to learn proper manners and to stop vilifying the rest of the world. Otherwise, we will simply become all the more polarized for practically no reason and things will devolve even further into hate when we could instead make some significant progress.

In short, enough with the labels already. The labels only make things worse. When someone is labeled, their ears close off and conversation is impossible. If we truly want to do some good, then we absolutely must stop labeling. The reason we got the polls so wrong, I imagine, is because all the labels were shutting people up so that they did not feel free to speak except in the closed, private, voting box. Labels have got to go.

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