Every Day is Boxing Day

There are no liberals. There are no conservatives.

There are only people.

Whe brought this to mind was this story of recent days: “GOP candidate charged after allegedly ‘body slamming’ reporter“, or more correctly the republican candidate’s response that included the phrase: “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene …”.

Whether not the journalist created the scene is debatable. But what struck me was the need to call him out as a “liberal” journalist.

We love our boxes. We love putting people into boxes or labeling them.

The reason is simple: once we have placed someone in their box we need think no further about them, their concerns, or their motivations. That’s all easily defined by the box we chose to put them in. Diving deeper into the nuances is just too much more work.

If we pick a box for ourselves — say “conservative” — we can then quickly and easily dismiss all who disagree with us as “liberal”.

Quick. Easy. No thinking required.

Particularly of late, and particularly with respect to the differences of opinion being fostered in our current political climate conservative/liberal labelling, and bashing, is constant. Not a day goes by where people don’t trash one group or the other for not agreeing with some aspect of political or social discourse.

The problem is obvious: it’s a shortcut. As I said, it’s a way to quickly lump people together using an “us and them” mentality without having to expend the additional energy to actually consider the nuances of a position or proposal. As a result, the divide between only gets larger. Hope for any kind of resolution or solution fades.

I don’t know what the solution is. How do you change the emotional extremism fostered by an us-versus-them mentality into thoughtful debate, or even make the tiniest bit of progress towards that end?

I am not a conservative, though I hold many ideas and ideals that would be labeled such.

I am not a liberal, though I hole many ideas and ideals that would be labeled as such.

I guess that puts me at risk of being denounced by both since I refuse to take an all-or-nothing position for either.

It seems as if thinking — being thoughtful, open minded, and willing to invest time in the nuances — is not just being discouraged, but actively punished by the resulting liberal or conservative bashing.

There are no liberals. There are no conservatives.

There are only people.

Until that’s more commonly understood, internalized, and practiced, we’re looking at a very angry, divisive future.