There’s this weird movement going on in the United States where friends are no longer associating with friends and family members are disowning one another left and right (pun intended) because of their political beliefs (link). In Google Search, click Tools and adjust the search to “Past Year” and you’ll see it continues in the present.
I was going to wax philosophically about it, but then I thought I’d cut to the chase: it’s stupid.
This could be in part to me growing up in a place where politically and religiously I always felt like an outcast. I don’t know. But hearing people talk about their political or religious beliefs in a way I may have disagreed with was par for the course in my day-to-day existence.
Had I disavowed everyone in my life who I didn’t agree with when I was younger, I would have died of starvation and Christmas would have sucked royally.
My Friends and I Only Agree on One Thing: Nirvana
I don’t know how many of my friends ride the disowning family and friends school bus — maybe a few, maybe none. But one thing my friends don’t have to worry about, or family for that matter, is me parting ways with them because they believe something different than I do.
If I think about some of my closest friends, those still living and the ones no longer here with us, I can honestly tell you at least 75% of them we don’t see eye-to-eye politically, based on what conversations we’ve had over the years. Two of my good friends are polar opposites of me politically.
They’re all like, “Rush Limbaugh RIP” and I’m like, “Picked up the new Noam Chomsky book today. It’s a banger!”
The only thing we agree on is that Nirvana was a vital part of our youth. Even that comes with a touch of disagreement or, you’ll have to excuse me, territorial pissings, regarding album of choice: I’m an In Utero guy. You may favor Nevermind or MTV Unplugged in New York. Will anyone take a stand for Incesticide?
The Only Side I’ll Choose is Mashed Potatoes
As a matter of fact, even if you think I’m on “your side,” you’re probably wrong. While I identify as a lefty, the left wing irks me as much as, if not more than, the right wing. Before anyone says I’m drifting to their side, wrong. I’ve been like this since before I had a mohawk and Bad Brains spray-painted on the back of my leather jacket.
From a governing standpoint, I don’t think our state, country, or local offices should be governed from a left or right side. Policies should reflect the percentage of cast votes — not winner take all. Imagine how much more sane we’d be if this was done?
Cancel Culture and Banned Books: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Cancel culture and banned books are two sides of the same coin. You hear the right, for example, decrying cancel culture. In principle, I’m not against you in your protests. As someone who grew up watching raunchy comedy with my dad, specifically Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, when you go after comedians, you’ve lost me left wing.
But to my righties out there, you can’t then turn around and ban books. That’s what we call hypocrisy. If anyone has forgotten what hypocrisy means, here’s the definition:
The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.Dictionary
One such book I actually know the author and he’s a good dude. I’m not going to name drop him here but he helped me tremendously early in my writing career. He brought me on at a magazine I had no business belonging to considering the company present.
I’ve read the book you want (and have successfully in some states) banned and you either didn’t read it or you have a very poor understanding of literary devices such as metaphor and flashback. Wait until you read the Bible. It’s going to blow your mind. Oh, wait. You have? I don’t know.
Let’s (not) Talk About It
If one of my friends were to start ranting about politics, I may politely ask we not discuss politics and instead talk about the time we partied like it was 1999 — because it was, well, 1999.
Something lighter and less divisive. You know, something where we come together instead of find a reason to drive a wedge between us. Plus, you don’t want to hear my retort any more than I want to make it. I once debated Mr. Prophett at Randolph-Henry on the merits of anarchism in case you forgot. Oh, the rabbit holes we will descend the two of us. Lewis Carroll would be gleaming.
If I want to hear someone yammering on about the state of the world and the real reason for all of its problems, I’ll turn on my television and listen to some suit-and-tie a-hole with a new book coming out this October, pre-order today! Except I don’t. Because those people are full of crap.
Fox News, MSNBC, and all the spawns they’ve launched on social media and cable television the last thirty years — they’re all grifters straight out of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
They know it. I know it. They are grifters selling you something if you’ll only pay attention to the advertisements — and it’s not just outrage they are selling. It’s division.
Hence, why that movement is a thing in this country. Rich people want your head on a swivel looking left, right, and down — not up, where they sit in gated communities with a prize stock portfolio.
Most of the folks I hear bellyaching have it ten times better now than they did twenty years ago. They’re keyboard warriors and armchair revolutionaries who rarely, if ever, lift a hand to make the world a better place. Safer behind a glowing screen, young padawan.
Fish In a Barrel or Salmon In a Can
I used to eat salmon out of an aluminum can growing up for crying out loud. My mom would drop those bad boys into the frying pan and cook up some salmon cakes. A little ketchup and you’re good.
I don’t eat salmon out of a can anymore. You probably don’t either, do you? Maybe you never did. And if you know someone who does because that’s all they can afford, help them. Voting alone doesn’t cut it and a status update does nil. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food drive. They need volunteers. I’m one. You can be too.
So make amends with your mom or dad or sibling or friend or aunt or uncle or what have you. Political division is stupid, especially among the citizenry. Leave that up to the politicians acting out a script they are privy to while they laugh their way to the bank while you bicker.
Be kind. Be respectful. Don’t start a shouting contest. Don’t join in. And don’t try to win one. There is no winning.
I think the Bible said something about this: love thy neighbor and do unto others. Yeah, that’s the ticket. So did the Buddha. Confucius. The Torah. Actually every major religion. Andy Griffith. Mr. Rogers.
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