Not Good: Many On The Political Left Lack Empathy For The Entire Political Spectrum
A note before I begin: To the friend I am referring to in this article. Know that you were just the catalyst for this particular post. I have had MANY similar discussions or been witness to many similar feelings in the past. I am not trying to single you out and, indeed, I am sure there are plenty of people with different political ideologies than yours who feel the same way as you seem to about people of different political ilks.
The discussion I had with her wasn’t so much about politics – although I felt at many points there were attempts to dodge my questions and turn into a discussion about politics – it was more about people.
For the purposes of this post I am not going to be posting the conversation verbatim because that would be way too long and I don’t remember it all in every detail.
I asked her that hypothetically when George W. Bush had been president if she had heard he was shot at but had no idea whether or not he was hurt, alive, or dead, would she wish him well. Her response was that she wouldn’t care.
I was taken aback, but pressed on, asking, “But, isn’t George W. Bush, at the end of the day, just another person? Shouldn’t we care for all people and wish them all well?” Her reply was that George W. Bush probably didn’t care about her if she were to be in the same situation. While this is true – George W. Bush probably WOULDN’T care about her – it is more likely because he has no idea who she is. Further, the likelihood of the news of a random citizen in Toronto being shot at reaching someone like George W. Bush in Texas is highly unlikely so the reply, in my opinion, held no merit. To make it more personal and show you I don’t think my friend is unimportant, I am well aware I have a pretty big ego. Even though I have a big ego and while I have met with some pretty prominent political leaders in my time I know that if anything ever happened to me – not necessarily something involving a crime because that is way more likely to make the news – no one outside of my immediate family and friends would really care. This is very unlike when United States Senator Ted Kennedy – referred to by many as the “Lion of the Senate” – had a seizure during President Obama’s inauguration and was rushed to the hospital it was national and even international news.
When I questioned her about another political figure, this one a Canadian but I cannot remember which one so I am not going to name a name, she said she thought the man was a jerk because he was anti-abortion. Wait, what? He is a jerk because he is anti-abortion? As many of my longtime readers know I am not one to get involved in political debates in this space and I make a point to never take a side, politically, in this space. I am, therefore, not commenting on my own personal beliefs on abortion (but it is fair to say that it falls in line with a sizable percentage of the population). However, I can say with a fair bit of certainty that every single politician out there – no matter how partisan – believes that their political ideology is truly the right way for their country/province/state/city. That goes for all areas not just abortion but right now that’s what I am talking about. The ones who are against allowing abortion are not anti-abortion because they just want to be jerks and want to deny people the access to abortion. The people who are anti-abortion, in my experience, truly believe that it is murder and they are against murder.
I am not going to comment on whether or not it is murder but I am just pointing out that the stance they are taking is the exact opposite of what a jerk would do. Sure, you may interpret it as a jerk move because your conception of the situation is different but try to understand that these men and women are not advocating these things just to be mean. No, they are doing it because (a) they really and truly believe in their stance or (b) it will garner them the most votes (and the voters of their riding/region really believe in it).
My point in all of this is that I have found that people who identify themselves as politically left are very likely to have lost sight of what is real and true and important – people. Like I said, I am sure there are enough militant partisans on the right who feel the same way but I have yet to run in to them en masse like I have with people on the left. The sad thing is, is that these people don’t even see why what they’re saying is so very wrong.
What I am really trying to say and make clear is this: In this highly charged political environment we are currently living in in Canada, with a Federal Election around the corner I think we should all step back and think for a moment. While I may not agree with what your political beliefs are and what that politicians political beliefs are they are all still people. They are people who love their families and are loved by their families. They are people who are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, grandfathers and grandmothers. When something bad befalls them it is not a time to wish them harm, it is a time to wish them and their loved ones well. Just because you don’t agree with a political opinion espoused by someone it doesn’t mean they are the devil. They are still a human being just like you. Don’t demonize them to yourself, have empathy for them as fellow people.
This point was driven home all the more so when I told people that last Friday I went out to meet Mayor Rob Ford and when I met him he seemed like a really nice guy (again, politics aside). People I told this to, all who I would hazard a guess did NOT vote for Mayor Ford, seemed astounded to hear this. To me, Rob Ford seemed like the kind of guy I would want to sit down with and watch the game while we each had a few beers and yelled at the TV and maybe ripped on each other if we supported rivaling teams. To me, Rob Ford seemed more like a Don Cherry kind of guy vs a guy like Ron MacLean who, while immensely knowledgeable and seems to be a good guy, also seems like the more uptight academic type who one wouldn’t necessarily want to relax and have a beer with. (Of course, this could just be Ron MacLean’s TV persona and I mean no disrespect to this highly accomplished individual.)
Do you understand where I am coming from folks? Let’s take the hate and dehumanization out of politics and let’s try to have a little more empathy for each other from all sides of the aisle.
This post has already been published and I now realize its title is not fitting and after debating changing it have decided against it. I am going to let it stand as it is.