What’s Wrong with Your Politics

This is something of a retro post given I wrote it about a year ago, but didn’t feel good about sharing it for fear of miscommunication. I’ve since thought more on the subject and reworked my communication, I hope you can appreciate the endeavored pursuit of good and peace.

Politics. Everyone’s favorite subject! At least until someone disagrees with you then all of a sudden we need David Attenborough guiding viewers through the scrap. I’ve been thinking about the us-against-them politics, anti-black, anti-white, anti-cop, anti-”theotherside” movements in the U.S. I do wish to state clearly that in no way do I defend, appreciate, or respect the extremes of any of these viewpoints and this is only a caution against a particular way of thinking, speaking, acting, and feeling.

It seems that today’s movements (political and otherwise) are defined by what they stand against rather than what they stand for, they define themselves by decrying the existence or practices of others. I am of the opinion that this ultimately engenders spirits of hate, aggression, and accusation due to the fact that the individual becomes the enemy rather than the intellectual concept. It is no different than how for centuries militaries have striven to paint their enemies in as vividly evil pictures as possible in order to mentally survive the terrors of war.

Turning issues into us-versus-them can most definitely assist political and social success in the short term, but it also means that you must strip the issue of all particulars only targeting the most basic human emotions hate or love. There is no caring or understanding. One can either inspire from a standpoint of love or a standpoint of hate and unfortunately hate is the easiest and simplest power due to its more visceral nature. Pair that with the impersonal nature of social media and you have the U.S. today, racked by anger and division. People who pick a side are automatically subjected to hate by those those ideas they now oppose and when one tries to withdraw from expressed opinions they are ostracized for not caring or perhaps considered arrogant for their aloofness.

I asked myself, what made movement leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and William Wilberforce different? I think the answer is that they called us to something bigger and better than ourselves, pointed us toward a greater good. Wilberforce was not anti-oldwhitemen or anti-politician instead he voiced his belief in humanity and directed us to acknowledge Africans as our fellow human beings rather than pieces of property. Dr. King was not anti-south or anti-police instead, he painted a picture of his dream of all standing by the American creed that all men are created equal. Rather than calling out for chaotic anger, they both pointed us to the beauty and righteousness of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Paint the picture as pitched battle lines and all you will be left with are entrenched sides and cold inhuman interaction. “Good, they should be afraid.” “Too bad.” Congrats, you’ve told everyone who might disagree or maybe just had a different experience that you do not care about them. The reality of life is that the world can be dark and it is full of evil men like Weinstein and racists alike, but it is equally true that hate and aggression only beget more darkness. Stand up for what is right! But do so in ways which include and show respect and love to your fellow men and women. What are you trying to do, out-hate your opponents?? #chooselove

Protest Much?

So, as you may know, I live in Washington DC and nearly every weekend this year there has been a protest of some sort going on. A couple months ago one of them almost made me late to a soccer game! Driving into the city on the weekends, I’m always passing by tiny groups of protesters making their way home carrying the remaining signs they didn’t leave lying around the streets and monuments

(not #fakenews – the day after the women’s march the ground was literally layered in protester’s signs and trash).


So all this has got me thinking – has all this expended energy and money effected any real change?

Of course to some extent or another this is extremely difficult to measure. Is Trump still president? Yes. Have his two main pushes so far, immigration and healthcare, succeeded? No. But, in this complicated world of ours it is rare (if ever) a single thing which affects change… so what are the protests accomplishing?

First off, it engenders a culture which pressures people into either “loudly” expressing their opinions or being viewed with distaste for not caring enough. If you aren’t a part of the protests then you somehow stand actively contrary to the message. I’m not saying people actually say this (though we all know some have), but it creates a culture where that is how people feel only causing tensions to rise. Instead of feeling open to talk about their differing opinions people are intimidated into silence.

Rather than development you get bullying.


Second, you end up dragging in people who have not necessarily had the chance to actually think through the issues. Instead, it is all about what the group is doing rather than a meaningful discussion on what is best or even WHY it is best to solve the problem by demonstrating. The atmosphere has become defined by pathos (an appeal to emotion) rather than logos (an appeal to logic) which means the people standing next to you in the protests may or may not know why precisely the issue is a problem, why protesting is the best answer, or be able to defend these positions to someone who genuinely wants to learn.

Finally, when someone is taking part in a violent, loud, or otherwise emotion-driven protest they are degrading themselves. Before you get upset – here’s what I mean by that, when you stand up next to Dr. Martin Luther King you look like the smaller person. Dr. King used peaceful protests to generate and demonstrate solidarity for the movement. He used words which spoke to all mankind in an effort to bring them together.

It wasn’t about demonizing or threatening the enemy, it was about revealing to him the error of his ways.

You have a choice to either put your arm around your fellow Americans to plead and convince them of the light or you can yell, fight, and tell them how “evil’ they are. If you were back in school picking teams to play Capture the Flag would you want to be on the team that just spent the last ten minutes yelling and screaming about how you were (insert your choice of negative comments here)? I think not…