Differing views don’t make us enemies
I must be a sore loser. I am a sore loser because the person I voted for did not win. I am a sore loser because I applied for a job I didn’t get, or ran for an office I didn’t get. I am a sore loser because I haven’t won the lottery, or traveled the globe, or become rich and famous. I admit, there may be times that I regret that some things turned out the way they did. Don’t we all recognize this feeling? Haven’t we all been there at some point? If I am a sore loser, then most of us are sore losers. We have this in common — we don’t always get what we want.
We have much more than that in common. I was shocked when I read the recent letter “Left remains in sore loser mode” sent to the OBSERVER on Feb. 3. Somewhere the writers have gotten an impression of what is happening socially and politically that appears to me to be from the other side of the looking glass.
I do not doubt that they are nice people who have been sincerely frightened by the divisive rhetoric of the information tunnels they’ve been drawn into. The people we interact with in our daily lives seem to have drastically opposite views of what is going on and we don’t know that about them until we read a letter to the editor or their facebook or twitter posts, where their true thoughts come out.
For a long time we’ve had a standing rule to avoid talking about politics and religion. Instead, we should have been learning how to do just that. Recently, I was talking to someone who reminisced fondly about her weekly family gatherings where earnest political discussions occurred, heated debate ended civilly with no animosity. The goal was usually mutual, while the means to achieve it were argued. It’s different now, entire realities are disputed. Families can’t bring up Trump without risking an angry argument. We are divided by an impassible chasm into which civil discourse has fallen. Trump didn’t cause it. The chasm has been being dug for decades, he just helps in the shoveling.
Do those writers look at a group of local residents peacefully joining in on a national march here where we live, and see hateful, abrasive, righteous, vicious, pompous, lawless radicals with no common sense trying to suppress the very freedom of speech that they want protected? Do they see their faces? Do they see that they are their neighbors, people they interact with in their daily lives? Do they believe that about their neighbors and acquaintances?
We need to all understand that the propaganda that can be spread through certain media that reflect a bias rather than report news does not portray average folks, on either the right or the left of politics. Most of us who have what would be called “liberal” views are not evil, just as we do not feel that most who hold conservative views are “deplorable”.
Those writers have had a false impression foisted upon you by listening to voices who more accurately fit that description of hateful lawless radicals, their intent is to sow chaos. Remember, there are hate groups that endorse violence aligned with the far right agenda who support Trump, but we know that most conservative folks don’t approve of those hate groups either. Most people who believe with good reasons to back up their belief that Trump is conning us for his own gain and that are concerned for the future of our country and environment for our children are not out to confront or harass. If you have been personally a victim of an unprovoked attack by a peacefully marching, sign-carrying “liberal” then you are a unique case.
You are a victim only of a media campaign that started long before Trump became president and which incorporated him to help gain supporters by villainizing those who see past the smokescreen produced by powerful billionaires controlling the narrative in order to maintain their wealth and power. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others all help to do their propaganda for them. Do you wonder why you hear them having to call out other news outlets as fake all the time?
You don’t hear reputable news sources saying that about Fox, but we know it to be true because we have figured it out ourselves using reliable research and critical thinking, not because they told us so. I hear them discussing actual issues and voicing opinions without creating hostility. Even more insidious are the fraudulent social media trolls. It is so hard to guard against their divisive messages.
In your letter, most of the people who you are demonizing actually go to church, support law enforcement (including our intelligence agencies), have family in the military, support veterans, belong to community organizations just like you, and go to work beside you. Our kids attend school with yours. We don’t want our Social Security taken away, we want to have affordable health care, we don’t want to be plunged into another war (hot or cold), we have empathy for others and help our neighbors in time of need just like you, we want everyone to have a fair chance at life, racial and religious minorities included. We are not pro-abortion, but we are for women’s rights. We fly the flag, we exercise our responsibility to vote, we support our rule of law and constitution, and we love our country and oppose those who threaten it, foreign or domestic.
That would be what we are guilty of, and it’s not hate that we feel so much as bewilderment and frustration at why folks like you who we probably interact with every day very sociably would feel this way about us. I bet if we met on the street or in a store, you wouldn’t think of me as one of the people you described and we might even have a friendly exchange. Even established relationships become guarded when the news silos that have been chosen taint perceptions. This has happened to many of us and it is unfortunate.
Tactics of power seekers through history have included dividing the common populace against itself in order to take control. Those writers need to think about how many of the attributes they cited in their letter actually apply to anyone they know — even those who don’t believe Trump is a David.
There is more to their concern than their candidate not winning, than being a sore loser. Those who seek power over us all will succeed in gradually grabbing more and more unless we realize that we are not each other’s enemy and we are more alike than the differences that they are trying to wedge between us.
We need to focus on the real enemies, and they are not the fellow members of our communities.
Susan Bigler is a Sheridan resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org