Guilt by association. Guilt by breathing the same air. Guilt by handshake. Guilt by non-denial. This is the culture we now live in; a culture where a friend of mine has to wave off negative comments when simply posting that her father, a prominent business leader in the small city we grew up in, has been invited to a White House conference on business. As if being important enough to be invited somehow makes him a full-on, Kool-aid-drinking Trump adorer.
Are we really so small-minded that we cannot conceive that someone else might have different ideas than us without immediately branding them as evil? I hear all the time how people are ending friendships over political leanings, how couples are divorcing, and how people are being targeted for harassment simply because they don’t see the same way as the harassers. I myself have been labeled as a Trump supporter simply because I tried to explain how there could be more than one side to an issue. And after writing that last sentence I feel an immediate compulsion to make it clear that I did NOT vote for Trump, when really, why should I have to?
Why should it matter? But somehow it does. I don’t understand it. Have people lost their minds? Since when has it become acceptable to spew vile, vitriolic hate at someone and try to excuse it as fighting hate? It’s like a parody video I saw recently where someone shoots someone in the stomach, then claims it was just a prank. The victim, who was angry at first, suddenly accepts it with grins and nods.
It’s like banning all guns by shooting everyone who owns a gun. Shouldn’t you start with yourself first? And are you really surprised when they decide the don’t want to get shot and start shooting first? Quite frankly, this hating haters to stop their hateful hate is what got us into our current political mess in the first place. Whatever happened to Love Trumps Hate? I think those adhering to that policy forgot that it means you have to love everyone, not just those who agree with you. Echo chambers don’t change the world. They entrench the problems.
I won’t advocate love as the answer. I think that’s too much to ask right now. I’d be pleased enough if we could start by simply not judging each other in the worst possible light, followed by taking time to actually listen to those we disagree with and be willing to accept some validity to their views. That in itself would be a major step forward.