As I round out my midlife crisis after turning 40 this year, I am reminded of a time when talking about politics used to be interesting, fun, and mentally stimulating. That time when two people from completely opposite sides of the political spectrum could engage in hour-long intense debates about ideology and particular positions. Conversations that are nearly impossible in this political climate (I wouldn’t say this is new, I would say it is worse) that we see ourselves in.
I find this incredibly sad for a few reasons.
For one, I miss it. I miss that dialog, that passionate debate. It’s wonderful to have a deep intellectual discussion and debate a position while also being open to the other. That rationality is within our core as humans. That openness, that rational thought process to debate another human openly benefits our own selves. When we are open to debate, when we have the privilege of a real sparring partner, we learn. We learn if our positions are actually correct. They aren’t always correct. Sometimes they are wrong or sometimes they aren’t as correct. Maybe I am wrong here, but I think the most lovely thing of all about being human is having thoughts, having a brain that is capable of learning, having the ability to search for the right thought, the right answer. That, to me, is beautiful. Just having to be right, to defend one’s position with such gravitas without even considering the other side, without even looking at the other side’s point of view possesses an illogicality that is unfathomable. Ask yourself this, “Do I have to be right?” Or, just maybe, just maybe you can turn “have” to be right, to “want” to be right…
Sadly, our inability to debate, to be open-minded has turned us into vicious school children. I posted on social media a few months ago that I missed being in elementary school. Children were more mature. It wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t even close to a joke, though some people took it as such. It was honest. When I was 8, I heard far fewer names being called. There was a lot of teasing, fights, bullies, people being picked on, but it wasn’t nearly like this. Back then you had the ability to have a conversation without name-calling. Currently, you see MBAs, PH.D’s, name-calling, being vicious with zero thought, zero intellect, zero openness.
And in this lies the saddest part of all. We used to be educated. We used to want to learn and dive into the issues to have that opinion. To be able to have that debate. To learn. Now, most people couldn’t coherently conversationalize a particular position because they don’t know why they even have it. It is less about their own passion or about the passion to learn, it’s that the position is part of our side now and it is against the other side. Positions that were pretty much the same 10 years ago. That doesn’t matter though. And what is truly sad, is that instead of our own thoughts, our own stunning brains, we research less, we debate less, we just go along for the ride. And because we can’t actually articulate our positions, we resort to name-calling and a coldness that mirrors a Chicago winter.
I haven’t given up hope though. It was from two conversations that I had recently. Two from people on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Two which really surprised me greatly.
The first conversation was with a client who I would describe as being radically opposite of my average position.
The conversation was about immigration in the height of the drama that surrounded all conversations. I was ready to just let him speak without much debate because we are so opposite and not only do I consider him a friend, but he is also a client. While our views on how to deal with illegal immigration weren’t the same, we both had a logical argument. It was a wonderful 10 minutes of dialog. I felt that we both saw the other side, respected the other side and learned from the other side. I think our positions adjusted a bit and it made me more open to various solutions.
The second conversation with someone who is also on the opposite side of the political spectrum. was in regards to abortion. On the surface, without conversing, we could easily assume each other’s sides and we wouldn’t really even know them unless we had that conversation. It turned out we weren’t far apart. We were rather in the same place. There was a compromise.
I miss compromise. Now it’s just “fuck you, you’re wrong and stupid.”
We should stop our name-calling, stop our assumptions and get back to dialog, to debate, to learn each other’s thoughts and have a certain amount of respect for other opinions.. Besides the fact that we are no longer in elementary school, it will allow us to learn from our own positions better and possibly change them if they weren’t logical versus being mindless drones who attack on orders from our political party.