“You are?” she says.“You want to talk about it?”
She grabs her pad off the desk, asking, “What do you mean by racist?”
“Well…” I continue,“every four years I get emotional about the presidential race. But this year my concern is turning into resentment. No worse, anger.”
“Because the president is Black?”
“Black? I’m not racist about color or sex preferences or where you were born. I’m racist about the race! I’m mad about the way people are taking extreme sides over it, and the way everything is so…so, super opposite now. And then there’s the propaganda commercials and deception and the fight for total control and the way so many people are uniformed about all the not-so-hidden agendas.”
“I see,” comments my therapist, writing another note. “You have legitimate reasons to be agitated.”
“Oh, I’m way more agitated than agitated!” I shriek.“I’m starting to hate the people who vote against their own interest! And mine with it! And all because of greed and fear of differences and religions and ignorance. I mean…these people! These intolerant…”
Wow… It’s snapping into focus. I gotta think about this.
“What?” she asks, now that a hush has filled the room.
I turn to her. “Now I’m intolerant. I’m turning into them. I’ve joined their war. This is bad.”
“You recognize it, though.
“Doesn’t help. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling threatened. Good guys and bad guys type threatened. Like…there’s-bad-guys-next-door threatened. Like…I have bad guy friends when they hit the voting booths. And all that spiritual stuff, that We’re-All-One stuff? It’s telling me we’re seriously sick. Sick and dysfunctional. The whole country. It’s civil war. What happened to, We’re Americans first?”
“Well, Irv,” responds my pretty shrink, in that calming voice that sort of helps,“this diverse country was built on the idea of individualism. And unfortunately, racism and exploitation of labor. It has always been about competition and acquisition and fighting to reach the top. But that struggle made us the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world.”
“Sure. And that all worked when there was enough to go around: enough land, enough jobs, enough oil and water and electricity and food…and money. And now there isn’t enough, of anything. And people are hording and stealing and lying just to keep what they have or get more of the dwindling pie…crumbs. Nobody trusts anybody anymore.
“Including you, Irv?”
“Including me. And that’s what’s killing me. I’m not the live-and-let-live dude I used to be. ‘Cause I’m thinking, those other guys in that other political party, they don’t want to live-and-let-live. Or at least the let-live part. They want conformity, to THEIR standards, THEIR morals, THEIR decision of who-gets-what…and how much.”
“Yeah, but I’m with the good guys.”
“They feel the same way.”
“But I’m informed.”
“They would argue that too.”
“But I mean REALLY informed. Like getting information from different sources and media. I can see the difference between what the politicians are saying and what they’re really doing. And I don’t lie about it.”
“Meaning the other party does?”
“Yep. And the bigger the lie, the more they keep repeating it until enough people believe it. Even when the liars are caught and disproved, it doesn’t matter. The idea was planted and imprinted. And when my friends buy that garbage as well, or the people I work with, I can’t help but think they’re easy marks, or too lazy to fact-check the claims. It’s easier to blame the other guy. And that other guy is me, ‘cause I supported the boss they hate. Did you know there’s a 70% increase in hate crimes since 2000? There’s 1,018 hate groups spewing venom in this country. Well, 1,019 if you include me. I’m starting a club that hates the haters.”
“This is not healthy, Irv.”
“I know. I’m a benevolent bigot. Is there a pill for that?”
“I’m afraid not. You’re going to have to understand the other side and accept people on their terms, not yours.”
“Like serial killers, domestic terrorists, and rapists?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do. But now voters threaten my liberty because laws are being proposed that take it away. And my friends are voters. And some of them are voting for, what I’m against. And the other way around. So how can I keep a deep connection with them? I can’t. ‘Cause ranting about the things most important to me starts a face-off.”
“You can talk about things in agreement, can’t you?”
“We do. It’s a four topic list. And while we chat about our jobs and our latest joint pains and back aches, inside I’m thinking, is she one of Them voting with that other party? Is he casting a ballot for a man who wants to steal my pension? This friend I’m talking to now, how open can I be with her anymore? How much passion do I censor to keep the dialogue cordial?”
“Censor nothing,” answers my psychologist. “You might be surprised. Your friends might accept your whole package.”
“That’s not my point.”
“Oh? What is your point?”
“My point is, I won’t accept them.”
“Then Irv, you’ll have a very narrow world if you only befriend people who think like you do.”
“Right,” I affirm.“But it’s safer that way. My group understands me.”
“Point taken,” comes back.“But be aware, without contrast there’s no challenge to your thoughts and no reason to go deeper into them, which means, no growth.”
Humm… I’m thinking now. Yeah… She’s right again. Sort of. But I already know their ideas. I considered them and rejected them. Should I reject my friends too? How many do I have left? Five?
Ya know, now I finally get it. Now I understand why Sunnis hate Shiites, and Irish Catholics hate Irish Protestants, and Serbs hate Croatians. Now I understand how people so similar can make war on each other. I understand because super right Republicans hate super left Democrats. And the other way around.
So forget the We’re-All-One wish. Too many people want We’re-All-One as long as the ONE part conforms to THEIR group. But that’s never gonna happen. So it’s easier to hate the guy who’s not like you. Your world is simpler then. You know where the lines are drawn. It’s either good or bad, black or white, with me or against me. And there’s winners and there’s losers. Mostly losers, or at least people who feel like their losing, or could lose.
And that’s me. I’m counting the days to the election, biting my nails, ‘cause I think it’s that serious.
Yep. I’m surrounded by assassins.
Whoa! The thought hits me…Assassins! EVEN IN THIS OFFICE!
“Are you a Republican or Democrat?” I ask my lady shrink, holding my breath for her answer.
“For our work here,” she states, “that question is irrelevant.”
Oh my God! She spun the question like those politicians do on Meet the Press! Oh my God…Maybe she’s one of Them!
Originally published on Curiosityquills.com.
Photos from: All Are One & Modern Servant Leader