We’re just a couple of days from Election Day and the rhetoric and vitriol is ramping up to new heights. Candidates for every office from Governor to Dog Catcher are telling anyone who will listen why votes for the other guy are bad for everybody…while somehow never getting around to saying why votes for themselves would be good for everybody. It’s all “Vote for me because the other candidate is anti-everything good and wholesome. ”
The only problem with that approach is that the other candidate is saying the same thing but from the other direction. How are you supposed to choose? If either one said something like, “I’ve got X number of years in government at the regional level and I did A, B and C during my tenure.”…or maybe, “I’ve got a Masters in Economics and consulted with the Treasury Department for the last however-many years.” then you’d have something you could check on to help you make up your mind.
But what we have is just finger-pointing. Well, that and what they say they’re for or against…and how they say it. It’s really easy to stand up and say “I’m in favor of” or “I’m opposed to” a political hot-button. But how they say it can be very telling.
Let’s use same-sex marriage as an example. If a candidate comes out in favor of or opposed to same-sex marriage but can’t, or won’t, say why…or maybe just sounds kind of meh on the subject, they might be just pandering to a demographic in search of votes. That’s pretty much standard fare from politicians. In that case, the only thing a voter can do is look at their voting record – assuming they have one – and decide as best they can.
But there’s a type of candidate commonly found these days that will express their views in more concrete terms. And, from what I’ve seen, those terms are usually very strongly AGAINST. Against a whole bunch of things…and that’s fine. This is a free Country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But it hides a problem.
The problem with a lot of these candidates and their supporters is that they are not just against certain things. They appear to actively hate those things and anyone who disagrees with them about it…which kind of flies in the face of that whole, “It’s a free country” thing. I mean, you’re free to believe any way you want…as long as you agree with me? That’s not the freedom I grew up with.
Us vs Them
The thing is, when you hate like that, you generally aren’t willing to talk about it. Certainly, I’m not seeing a lot of conversation between people trying to come to a common ground. Hate is dividing us as a country. This is a bad thing.
And we’re letting the haters do it to us…and that has to stop. We need to call out any person, politician or not, who is pushing hate as a doctrine. If someone posts something on social media espousing hate, call them out on it. If a political candidate pushes an agenda or law that demonizes a group or a right, call them on it, preferably in public and in front of the press. If a religious leader preaches hate for…well, for anything, call them on it even if it means interrupting church. The last time I checked, God is love. It seems to me that hate doesn’t have a place in any faith.
Hate is insidious. It can sneak up on you and get hooks into you before you’re aware it’s there. So calling out someone about their apparent hate will bring that out into the open where they have to address it and deal with it. What they do or don’t do at that point will often tell you every thing you need to know about that person. If they admit to it and try to mend their ways, they may just be someone who got snuck up on. If they deny it or try to spin it or, even worse, admit it and act proud of it, they are probably not someone you want making decisions for you and yours.
And we can’t just point it out in other people. Remember the old saw – “Whenever you point at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.” There’s truth in that. You can’t expect people to change their hate if you aren’t willing to change yours. Stop hating. Stop using the word “hate”. I don’t care if you’re talking about politics or brussel sprouts. Don’t hate. Think about alternatives.
Maybe they’re not so bad…
I used to not like brussel sprouts. I can’t really say I hated them but I certainly didn’t like them. They were bitter, mushy and gross. Then I found a way of cooking them that I did like…and suddenly, brussel sprouts are on the menu in our house. Try to face political and religious differences the same way.
Don’t hate someone because they vote or worship or marry or think differently than you do. Look for alternatives. Look for common ground. If you disagree with someone on the subject of same-sex marriage, maybe you agree with them about health care…or the economy. Find the things you agree on and use that as a foundation to build a dialog about the areas you disagree on. And when you come up against something that you can NOT agree on, accept that fact, agree to disagree but also, agree to live and let live…which means neither of you gets to tell the other person how to live.
If they don’t think abortion is a good thing, they they are free to not get one. If they think same-sex marriage is a sin, they are free to not be in a same-sex marriage. If they think there are only two sexes, fine. But no one gets to force their views on anyone else. This country was founded on the principle that everyone is created equal…which means that everyone gets to live how they want to and no one gets to tell anyone else how to live.
This country was founded on freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion if you so choose. Freedom to act and think however you want as long as you don’t hurt others. So don’t hate. Hate hurts. Hate hurts us all. If someone chooses to live a way that you don’t approve of, you have every right to not approve. But you do NOT have the right to dictate that they live in your approved manner. That is not freedom. That is tyranny. That is slavery. That is hate. And that is not America.