I read an article the other day, and the author of the article warned me “not to trust Trump supporters.” I couldn’t believe the audacity of that statement. Husband and wives are not to trust another because of politics? Children and parents should suddenly become estranged and not trust one another because of their rights to disagree politically?
Can you imagine how boring the world would be in monochrome? While there are some black and white issues in the world, the reality is the world is much grayer than clearly defined. It is within this vast area of gray where political debate occurs.
I get a lot of emails. Much of it is hateful; some of it supports my views. I read all my mail and some people literally hate me for my views. Others think I’m as enlightened as Buddha. People come to sites like this one for a variety of reasons. Most of them are looking for validation for their deeply held political beliefs. When they get their ideas challenged it hits them hard and often they react. People are looking to hear, “I’m OK, the other side isn’t.”
Politics, like religion, is a deeply personal matter. Holding a political belief is treated almost as sacred. Political beliefs help many to define the world and their place in it. That sounds a lot like religion and religion and politics are first cousins.
I once read that religion was the cause of more wars than any other cause. I don’t know if that is true or not. If it is true, then politics has to be in close competition as the number two reason for starting wars. The warfare doesn’t have to be among nations. Often, the war is between those who were former friends, or family. That is a tragedy when families break up over politics.
Why hate because of someone exercising their right to hold a political opinion? That is an interesting question and one I’ve wrestled with for years. There are so many other foundations that are stronger to build a relationship on that using politics as a reason to not like someone causes us to miss out on some good friendships.
In a less civilized time, separating friend from foe became a survival strategy. It is a primitive skill set that was necessary for survival. One could literally die because of improper enemy identification. That led to tribes of like-minded individuals banding together for survival and to perpetuate and assert their own culture. My, that sounds suspiciously like political parties. I’ve always thought parties are the modern tribes in society.
The origins of hate seem to be linked to this friend or foe survival skill. Combine the skill with basic thinking processes and hate can become a byproduct. The first step on the road to hate is to assign blame for our misfortunes. We see this on social media all the time. Outside factors are the blame for our lot in life, or so we like to think. If someone supports this perceived cause of our misfortune, then they are party to the misfortune, or so we think. Therefore we hate them.
Hostility toward those who are part of “the other side” tends to increase the cohesion of a political party. We see this all the time on social media too. Political Parties are good at knowing how we think in groups and as individuals and exploit the notion that their party is superior to the other party. Hate for the other side strengthens the party and protects it from attack by “inferiors.”
Another primitive emotion occurs because of partisan politics. Kill or be killed is a primitive reaction to an enemy. In a civilized society, the kill or be killed emotion manifests itself in our pushing away those with opposing views. In extreme cases, it ends up in actual physical attacks.
When you are on social media and you feel the hate grow for a debate partner, understand you are exploring our primitive side. Those emotions you feel date back to primordial times.
Take a deep breath, and remember that we should not treat politics like a religion. We should allow people the freedom we want for ourselves and that is to hold a political opinion. Look for other avenues where there may be common interests.
As for people who hate, I try to keep them out of my life. You can’t change them, they have to change themselves. Engaging those who hate is a waste of time. Only they can move away from their primitive behavior and there is nothing you can say, or do which will make them change.
It’s ok to disagree with one another our politics. Try to put your hate aside. When you hate you are open to being manipulated. When you don’t hate, you can think without clouded judgment and are less likely to be duped by political forces at work.
I don’t support Donald Trump; I think he is the exact wrong person for the job. Some of his supporters I love, not just like, but love and have all my life. That will not change because of their political choice. Reign in the hate. There are things much more important than politics. Family and friends are two of those things.
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