Something that Needs to be Said
But I’m afraid to say it.
I have to be honest, I’m afraid of talking about politics. I’m a small business owner and I’m afraid that if I say something about politics that offends someone, they won’t want to hire me and I need people to hire me! But, I feel like this needs to be said.
Today, on Facebook, a friend posted this political meme.
It irritates me. I almost let it pass, like I do with most political memes. But I started thinking about why it irritates me. And the reason is this. The meme implies oversimplified positions, that I would probably be associated with, in such a way as to make them inaccurate at best and deliberately misleading at worst. Someone out there probably thinks I hold these double standards because of my affiliations politically and religiously. What really gets me, however, is that there are those who KNOW this is misleading and they post it any way.
This is why politics sucks on Facebook. No room for nuance. Over simplification of positions leads to further misunderstanding and ever increasing gulf between people at a time when we really need to find a way to come together. Goes both ways, of course, and it’s irritating.
If you care to read it, below, I have a lengthy rebuttal to each oversimplification of this meme. But in case you choose to stop here, please understand this point:
Oversimplification of the argument you disagree with is a tactic of the intellectually dishonest and we are all better than that. All of these positions require some nuance to be honestly understood. If we know the nuances of each others positions, I’ll bet we would find much more that we agree on than otherwise. But there is an industry out there that doesn’t want us agreeing. Think about how much money is going to be spent campaigning this year? How much money do the winners of those campaigns make? Becoming a U.S. Senator, Member of Congress, or President of the United States is one way of absolutely assuring your vast fortune for generations to come. You don’t think most of the people involved aren’t in it to make money? The more we argue and hate each other, the more money is spent, the more they make and the more distracted we become from their cronyism and corruption.
So, I am committing to never spread on Facebook or anywhere else, anything that over simplifies mine or others positions. What we need is good honest people talking to each other, having barbecues and pot lucks, and movie nights, and learning what we believe and how we can make life better for everyone. Truly hearing people instead of just making noise.
For those of you who are interested in my nuanced rebuttal to this meme….here it goes!
First, let’s state the obvious. This is clearly an attack on people who would be classified as “on the right.” I generally end up in that category although I would classify myself as a constitutional libertarian.
1. Black lives matter. – Yes, they do. I understand why the movement doesn’t like the phrase “all lives matter.” It’s because it distracts from the problem they are attempting to bring a focus on, and that is, the conditions under which black people live in this country, which by many measures is different than almost any other group of people. I have no problem with peaceful protests that highlight this issue. I actually think that is a valid point and awareness of it is healthy. What I have a problem with is when they invent things to inflame the situation (“hands up, don’t shoot” references a lie). But I think that what makes me even more upset, is that statistically, cops shooting unarmed black men (which should NEVER happen) is, by comparison, not even close to the most serious threat to black lives. But they don’t want to talk about the black deaths in Chicago and other cities where the murder rate in black communities is climbing. This movement, by disenfranchising the police as a whole, has made it more difficult for police to patrol those areas making it far more likely that black lives will be lost. So, how can they say that “black lives matter” when the very protests and hate speech (“what do we want? dead cops…when do we want them now!”) is likely going to result in more black lives lost than it saves? It’s good to bring a spot light on the inequitable treatment of races in our society and find a voice for those who feel they are not being heard, but I would appreciate some self reflection as well.
2. All lives matter – Yes, they do. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!” – Martin Luther King Jr. What’s the end goal? If it’s a free society where justice is blind to race, gender, religion, etc. then you have to be willing to stand up against injustice, even as a black person when it happens to a white person…but some in the BLM movement not only don’t want justice, they want anarchy and revenge. Not a very good place to start from if you are looking for peace and understanding. But I understand, the point of the movement is to highlight what’s happening to black people (see notes above). As I was taught as a kid, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
3. Syrian Refugees lives matter – Yes, they do. I personally have a deeply held religious belief that includes that we, as individuals, have a responsibility to help in any way that we can. Turns out though, that for the same cost of bringing 100,000 refugees to the U.S. we can help 1,000,000 by sending aid and relief to places closer to their homes (or so the argument goes…I don’t have anything to back that up other than I heard that on the news somewhere recently). I know the refugee camps are not good places and it’s a temporary solution and there really needs to be a plan to help people re establish in their homelands or get them to a place where they can thrive, but right now, we need to be in triage mode and be using our resources to help the most people possible. Additionally, both the CIA and FBI have stated that we don’t have the ability to determine from the Syrian refugees, if there are people among them who are terrorists. So, I hope you can understand the reticence on the part of people who have witnessed increasing terrorist attacks near their homes to bringing people into this country who we don’t know if they want to kill us. I personally disagree with this point of view, but I understand it. I think we should be willing to bring in refugees, but I think this only works when we, as individuals, reach out to those refugees, help them, become their friends, welcome them into our homes and feed them and be willing to help them in an unfamiliar world. If the government brings refugees, and settles them in communities and isolates them, then that is not a good thing for them or for us. But you have to see, that wanting to protect U.S. Citizens is not a bad thing or a racist thing or anything other than a concern for safety (which happens to include Blacks, LGBTQ, Muslims and every other group this meme insinuates that people on the right don’t think matter).
4. LGBTQ lives matter – Yes, they do. Christianity, which has been labeled as “radical” “bigoted” and “hateful” has as it’s primary teaching that the most important thing is to love God, but that just as important, is that you love everyone else. I think the point is, that the only way to show that you love God is to love everyone else, because everyone else is who he loves. Doesn’t sound very hateful to me. I think the problem comes from a deeply held misunderstanding. That is that Judeo Christian morality, which was the foundation of our basis of laws, marginalizes people who violate that morality. But, the truth is, Judeo Christian morality is impossible to live perfectly. True Chrsitians will recognize this and they will be willing to state that everyone, regardless of their “sin” is equally in trouble in the eyes of God. But the misunderstanding is that their call to Judeo Christian morality is intended to marginalize those who live furthest away from it. This is a divide, that I don’t think can be bridged except on a personal level. So I think as a society, we need to start recognizing what I think is the most fundamental Judeo Christian doctrine. And that is that everyone has to be FREE to choose that morality (and reap the rewards or pay the consequences) and therefore, the only thing that should be criminal, is the limitation of that liberty. But consider the consequences. If you truly believe that violating that morality leads to eternal damnation, and if you truly love your neighbor, don’t you think you have an obligation to tell them? Of course you do, but I think many Christians take it a step too far. They forget, that the rewards in heaven are only there if they CHOOSE that morality, and attempting, by any means, to compel others to live that morality is a far bigger violation of that morality than the “sin” they are attempting to call out. I think that Christians have enjoyed the benefit of civil laws supporting their morality for so long that it is hard to remember that our role is to lovingly attempt to persuade, but compulsion, by any means, is a violation and that regardless of if someone accepts that morality, our responsibility is to love and respect them. BUT, the LGBTQ community would go a long way by showing a little respect the other direction and not targeting people for their beliefs and attempting to destroy their livelihoods. That is also, not loving. But in the end, a true Christian understands, what it really means to turn the other cheek. “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” Not many people live by these words anymore, even the professed Christians. This is my point. Christianity says that we are commanded to love and respect everyone REGARDLESS of who they are or what they do. For me personally, I have one guiding principle that trumps all others and so long as people live by it, I have no reason to do anything other than show love and compassion and and that is: Do not violate someone else’s liberty. That goes both ways. Let me point out, that even with this most egregious action, I am still, religiously obligated to show love and compassion. I think it’s misguided, offensive and just wrong to not bake a cake, or provide flowers or any other services to people for any reason other than if they intend to use that cake or flowers to violate someones liberty. But it would be removing the service providers liberty to force them to do it, and that’s a violation of my prime directive also. If you are saying to yourself, that I think it should be legal to discriminate, you would be correct. I think people should be free to be stupid, crass, mean, ugly, angry and all of that. They should also be free to reap the consequences of that. Which is that they are probably going to be treated the same way in return in this life and, in the end, I believe that discrimination and hatred and bigotry will be rewarded with eternal damnation in the next life…probably faster than any of the other “sins” that are in question. But just like I think LGBTQ people should be free to live the lifestyle they choose, so should hateful bigots…SO LONG AS NEITHER DOES ANYTHING TO REMOVE THE LIBERTY OF THE OTHER. On a practical level, somewhere in here, we have to address the reality that people who proceed with gender reassignment become something like 20 times more likely to commit suicide. We have to figure out why and start providing the help that is needed to prevent such an appalling loss of life and such horrible pain and suffering…and one option has to be NOT to proceed with the gender reassignment. A complete acceptance of emotional and mental disunity with the physical MAY not be in the best interest of all the people who feel that way. I’m primarily concerned with their life and happiness and to peer pressure them one way or the other without regard to what is going to cause the most pain is irresponsible political correctness at it’s worst.
5. Unarmed Black Men lives matter – Yes they do. I am so glad that there are those among us who are willing to risk their own lives (and by extension the lives of all their family) to protect others. If someone, wantonly kills an unarmed black man, justice must follow. But I am willing to give police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, and others who willingly put their lives on the line to protect others the benefit of the doubt to, at a minimum, not judge them without a fair investigation and trial. But obviously, every good person thinks it’s wrong to shoot unarmed black men for no reason other than they are black. To suggest that people on the right feel that way is just stupid.
6. Poor people on food stamps or some form of assistance lives matter – Yes they do. That’s why we as a compassionate society continue to vote to provide an ever increasing level of assistance. But you over simplify a very valid discussion about the worth of souls when you characterize the point with “I’m not subsidizing laziness…” The question is, at what point, are you doing more harm then good. No question, there are people who need help and a good society provides a safety net so that people don’t starve and go homeless. I have an opinion about who is better equipped to provide that safety net and I think the government has proven itself as inept and wasteful and that the same dollars, if applied through private charities, churches and organizations would go WAY further and help WAY more people than leaving it in the hands of the government, but that’s a different argument. The point being raised is that people differ on how much help is too much help. The obvious “compassionate” point of view is to give them all the help they want. But in the end, is showering people with ever increasing amounts of free goods and cash really compassionate? Is it better for an individual to be productive and earn a living or for an individual to not have to work and just be given what they want? I have worked, but I have also been unemployed (although I never even applied for unemployment…I just couldn’t get myself to do that). And I can tell you, that it is way better for the soul to earn your own living. So, is it wrong to want to encourage people to work instead of live off of other peoples hard work? If you have had kids, you know, that spoiling them (giving them stuff with no requirement for work) leads to idleness and a sense of entitlement which is not only ugly for those around them but dissatisfying to them. They always live in a state of dissatisfaction. Whereas, those kids who have been taught to work and earn, are happier, satisfied and generally more pleasant. So, the question is, is it loving to just give people stuff so that they become ever increasingly dissatisfied, idle and eventually depressed? Or, is it loving to reach out, befriend someone, teach them a trade, or a skill or even just how to be responsible enough to keep a job so that they can overcome their circumstances through their own effort? I choose the latter, because I love them. I think it is lazy of our society to say, “I pay taxes and the government gives them free stuff so I’ve done my part.” Now obviously, there are those who can’t work because of disability and a loving society needs to provide for them. I would prefer that the government take no taxes for and pay out nothing in welfare and instead, every individual feel an obligation, first to themselves, then to their family, than to their neighborhoods, and then to society as a whole to make sure that everyone has food and shelter and friends and chances at work and dignity. Do it with your own hands or through a good charity or church. I can tell you that at my church, so long as you honestly seek it, no one goes without food or shelter, ever. We take care of each other. And as a church we also send massive amounts of aid to people in distress around the world, including Syria! Not a single dollar is paid in administration, or salaries, or bureaucracy. All the labor involved is 100% volunteer. Why do we do it, because we feel personally obligated, through our religious beliefs, to love our neighbor (which is everyone, by the way).
7. People of different religious faiths than yours or no religious faith lives matter – It makes no difference if I think my religion is the one true religion. Particularly for Christians…see the discussion above. I wouldn’t be a member of my religion if I didn’t think it was true. But you have no obligation, in my mind, to believe the same thing I believe. In fact, a primary article of my faith is “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” There is NO ONE screaming louder for religious freedom than religious people. We don’t care what you believe, just that you allow us (and everyone else) to believe, whatever they want. Since I deeply believe what I believe, I feel an obligation to lovingly share the message, but, just like I said above, to attempt to compel anyone to believe it is a deadly sin. You are free to believe whatever you want. I have a religious obligation to love you and treat you with respect regardless. I will tell you that not all religions believe that. At least one, very large religion, believes that if you don’t believe what they believe, you have to either convert, pay a tax or die. Never heard that out of Christianity, and yet, Christianity is constantly being criticized for intolerance. From a Christian point of view, nothing is more offensive…and yet, I have a religious obligation to love and respect those who falsely make those claims. The irony is THICK! But that’s ok. So long as you don’t remove my liberty, you can think whatever you want to. I love you and respect you.
The last line is just silly. How I value “all” lives may appear different to you, but none the less is a true statement. But, find a dictionary, look up the words “general,” “free,” “liberty,” “enumerated,” “limited,” and then re-read the constitution and let’s talk about what our Federal government should or shouldn’t be doing.
The main difference, in my mind, between me and my liberal friends, is that I feel it is my personal responsibility to take care the poor, needy, downtrodden, infirm, etc. and they feel that it is the governments. Problem is, the only way the government can do it is by compulsion, and I hope by now, you know how I feel about that! When I do it, I do it of my own free will.
In this post, I have written a lot about love and respect and obligation. I recognize that for some, the word “obligation” is pejorative and implies a begrudging acceptance. I don’t intend it that way at all! These “commandments” are ones that I accept with cheerfulness! Like everything else, I’m not perfect about it, but I love loving my neighbor. I willingly, and without hesitation, submit to that directive.