It’s Time to Take a Look in the Mirror

I try to keep an open mind about everything in life. I don’t always succeed, but I do my best. I think that’s the most we can ask for when it comes to politics. We each have our own opinions, and we tend to stick to them unless we’re part of the minority who actually change our minds like we should when confronted with the cold, hard facts. And it’s okay if you can’t keep an open mind about political beliefs 24/7. You’re human, and you can only do so much. Some days, your views will overtake you, and you won’t want to listen to the other side of the aisle. It happens to me, too. However, as long as you make an effort to do it most of the time, as long as you comprehend that the world isn’t so black-and-white, but filled with shades of gray, you’re not acting in a problematic manner.

But it’s time we liberals take a long, hard look in the mirror. We are fooling ourselves into believing that we’re not the problem. After all, we’re not the ones promoting dangerous conspiracy theories such as the military reinstating President Trump, which is not only preposterous, but impossible according to the United States Constitution. We’re not proposing violent coups. Like 66% of Republicans, we don’t believe we should secede from the United States. We don’t spread Neo-Nazi ideology or ludicrous ideas like Jewish space lasers causing wildfires in California. We acknowledge January 6 for what it really was — domestic terrorism — and are appalled to hear it called a regular tourist group, or worse, in the words of President Trump, a “lovefest” of “peaceful” and “great” people who were hugging and kissing the police.

So how can liberals be the problem when the right is the side pushing that outrageous absurdity?

We have our own problems, and I’ll be discussing one. I won’t lie and say that it’s specific to us. Conservatives have this problem, too. But I’m not talking about conservatives right now. I’m talking about our community and how we refuse that we have it. And how disputing we have it makes it impossible to correct it.

Many of us are the problem in the same way most conservatives are: we abide by black-and-white thinking and deny the shades of gray in the world. Who are we to criticize people we disagree with on a policy matter? Personally, I detest being judged because I am pro-choice. It disturbs me when people compare me to a murderer because I believe women should have bodily autonomy and have the ultimate decision over their reproductive rights. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a vigorously moral person — and deeply proud of that aspect of my character. The reality that there are people out there who perceive me as immoral is overwhelmingly, soul-crushingly devastating to me. The conservatives who find me so unethical perceive this world — and me — in a black-and-white manner. They don’t recognize the myriad of shades of gray that encompass them and this world as a whole.

I have a notion that many liberals reading this will agree with me on that. They realize that a vast amount of conservatives find abortion to be immoral but wonder why they can’t differentiate between the act and the person. Because even if they are aware conservatives find the act of abortion sinful, it doesn’t necessarily mean the woman who is pro-choice is an abomination to society. Liberals may wonder why they can’t consider the circumstances and see that perhaps the woman who has an abortion is struggling and can’t afford a child, maybe she is a victim of rape or incest, maybe the fetus is putting the mother’s life at risk, or maybe the woman simply never wanted a child and desires to live her life with freedom.

Liberals can comprehend all of those reasons, so I know that we are capable of discerning shades of gray. But when it comes to conservatives, we suddenly refuse to do so. The majority of us judge them just as harshly as they judge us. If you deny that we do so, you’re either obtuse or delusional. And maybe you’ll defend it for all of the reasons stated above. You’ll claim it’s not a legitimate concern because you believe they’re the ones who act immorally. Except they also say the same about us. And seeing the world this way is a problem. We need to look in the mirror because what I’m witnessing about ourselves isn’t pretty.

It’s disturbing on both sides if you really want to get down to it. My Trump-voting family has called me horrible names, has insinuated incredibly negative things about me, and has become extremely angry with me over political disagreements. (I have to acknowledge I’ve done the same to them if I’m entirely candid.) However, my liberal friends aren’t any better. They denigrate my family who voted for Trump — many of them without knowing my family, and even disparage me for standing up for them. I recently had more than one person tell me they may no longer support me if I went on a second date with a Trump voter, despite the fact that they knew nothing about him except that he treated me well on our first date.

I’m slowly discovering that most people on either side of the aisle don’t care about being open-minded towards the other. They may claim they do, but they don’t. Not really. And certainly not on social media, where it becomes okay to bully others and slander people you don’t even know. God forbid I insist my Republican family and friends aren’t evil people. People on social media know that they voted for Trump, which automatically makes them vile and corrupt. It doesn’t matter that they’re the ones who have my back, who look after and protect me, and who care more about my life than their own. People on social media vilify me for having the audacity to disagree with them for not believing my family are immoral villains when I stand up for the people who are honestly the reason why I’m still alive today. Unfortunately, things aren’t so black-and-white.

But on social media, things have to be. And it’s not only ignorant but astonishingly toxic.

I’d rather spend time with those horrible, evil, no-good, wicked, immoral, corrupt sinners who would sacrifice their lives for me than talk to people who disparage them just because they disagree with them.

It’s time for all of us to take a look in the mirror.

We genuinely believe we’re so much better than the other side when it comes to this, but we aren’t. We’re just as erroneous. And it’s something we need to correct. When I think of the word “liberal,” I don’t want to associate it with the word “judgmental.” Just because we don’t share the same integrity issues as the GQP doesn’t mean our behavior isn’t problematic, because it is. And we need to fix it now — not later. 

We need to aspire to be better. As Hillary Clinton said, “When they go low, we go high.” 

So let’s do that. Let’s thoroughly act in that manner. We have a choice here. We can continue to behave as they do, treating people in a black-and-white manner. Or we can look at the individual and see them in shades of gray. To me, the decision is indisputable.

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