Can I say something, or does it even matter? – by Tripp Crosby
I’ve done my best to stay quiet about politics. Admittedly I’ve let some statements slip out, but usually I regret it and decide I should keep these conversations for the dinner table. I can tell just from Facebook that some of my close friends and colleagues have extremely different views than I do (mostly more conservative), and I want to be careful not to be disrespectful or patronizing by blabbing on an on about my stances on various topics. But as political conversations turn into debates and debates turn into protests and protests turn into people plowing their cars into each other I start to wonder if there is a point in which being silent is actually the wrong thing to do. Maybe it’s worth adding a little tension in my relationships for the sake promoting things I care about like racial equality, competent leadership, and open-mindedness to name a few. If you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh boy, here goes Tripp again”, then you might be one of the people I’m worried about offending.
Please like me. I’m a nice guy. And like you, I just want what’s best.
What I’ve realized this past year is that it’s not just the fear of ruffling feathers or losing respect from my peers that keeps me quiet. I’m also wondering if anyone is even listening. I know very few people who get online or even enter face to face conversations hoping to learn something new. It seems like most people are more frantically looking for articles, posts, and video clips to reinforce their current position on any given issue. And it seems like there is nothing I or anyone else can say could actually result in a person reconsidering their own perspective. What do you think?
Are your Facebook friends looking for a chance to say “amen” or “Oh, wow. I never saw it like that before”?
It’s obvious to me at this point that Trump could do or say anything, and some of my friends would still defend him or at least try and shift the focus of the conversation to something else. Guys, we have people rallying explicitly around white supremacy, and our President is arguably not that bothered by it. I would be more open to giving Trump the benefit of the doubt if this attitude towards minorities was an exception, but the list of racist sounding quotes is getting long. And people on Facebook are STILL defending his position. I get the statue thing is a complicated issue. I understand that General Lee had good qualities and while he fought for the confederacy, he was personally opposed to slavery. But based on some posts I’ve seen, there are people who are genuinely more bothered by a statue being taken down than the fact that hate groups are a thing. Even if taking down the statue is objectively morally wrong (it’s not) why would that be the bothersome thing when there are groups of white people marching around and yelling “The Jews will not replace us!”? I’m really asking. It’s possible I just don’t understand something.
Guys, I’m very frustrated by this.
And here’s the really ironic, crazy, senseless thing. Almost every person I know who is unwilling to reconsider their political/religeous beliefs is putting some (if not a lot) of energy into trying to convince other people they should reconsider theirs. Think about that for a second.
Maybe it’s worth asking ourselves:
“Have I listened carefully to others and actually considered their perspective before I expect them to listen to me?”
None of us are all-knowing, and we are all a product of our environment, our families, our peers, and our leaders. Most of these influences were out of our immediate control. We are all susceptible to being misinformed. Millions of people around the world arrange their lives around various religious convictions and political views, and despite the fact that these perspectives are completely incompatible with each other, each group believes they are the ones with the right information. It’s crazy to think that these white supremacists marching around with torches actually believe they are doing the right thing. Maybe they were born into communities who instilled this thinking into them starting at a young age only to have these horrible ideas reinforced over and over again by their friends, family members, and community leaders. I’m not excusing them at all. I’m just considering how easily people can feel right, and be so wrong. And while the severity of this particular stubbornness is extreme, I’m wondering how different it is than what I see on Facebook from mostly normal people. It seems like some people are committed to a worldview, and it’s just the one they were handed. My point is its probably a better time than ever to stop with the stubbornness and start having better conversations with those who we don’t see eye to eye with.
It’s time to stop calling all liberal media fake news, calling all conservatives dumb rednecks, and responding to Trump criticism with a comment about Obama. My hope in writing this post is that you might consider what it would look like to have some conversations with people who differ politically and actually listen. I’m also reminding myself to do the same. It might even be worth considering which of our own views (even the foundational ones) are wrong. Surely we aren’t simply the lucky ones who just happen to have all the right information