“And you’re wrong because you’re you.”
Why are we so focused on using real and perceived identities to actively and further divide us? Do we feel a sense of superiority when we identify someone else as different, and therefore, inferior to ourselves and others like us? Even worse, we use real and perceived identities as a substitute for thinking. “I’m Right Because I’m Me,” and “And you’re wrong because you’re you” are the disastrous results.
Pause for a truth check: What separates us is not gender, age, race, religion, politics, geography, wealth or education. What separates us is how we think. Period.
Yes, how we think can be influenced by the above list, but we need to fight against that–hard. Read, research, and have conversations with thoughtful people who are not at all like you; challenge yourself to find the truth. Here’s a useful question: “Why do I believe what I believe?” If the answer is that your beliefs are based on solid facts and shaped by sound reasoning, you are on the right track. If your answer is that your beliefs are determined by family and friends, Facebook or a single news source, geography, race, gender, etc., you are in trouble. In fact, we are all in trouble is many of us think in this way. I call it the cliche zone. Slogans, chants, cliches and unchallenged facts and conclusions rule the day. When the “other side” does the same thing, there is no way to settle anything save for increased volume, mounting passion, and, perhaps, violence.
Isn’t this what is at the core of identity politics?
The most flagrant abuse of identity politics in our country was slavery; blacks were identified as less worthy than whites–therefore candidates for slavery. In Nazi Germany, if you were labeled a Jew or gay, mentally retarded or a Gypsy, you were less worthy than “Aryans” and were a candidate for the gas chambers. In communist countries, if you are labeled as an enemy of the state, you are a candidate to be disappeared. In some Muslim countries, if you are labeled as a heretic, you are a candidate for a cranial separation.
How is any of the above essentially any different than today’s identity politics? We are doing the same thing; labeling people to make them less than who they really are–and less than us. No one is in danger of being gassed due to their supposed identity, but the basic “reasoning” is the same: I’m right because of who I am, and you are wrong because of who you are. No facts, no logic–just an identity-based determination. I’ll grant you that determining who is right and who is wrong based on an identity is far easier than actually thinking, but it is leading us down crooked and dangerous paths. These paths can lead nowhere but to further division and conflict. Absent facts and logic, in the end only complete suppression of the other voices and opinions–voices and opinions other than yours–can lead to any kind of resolution. And like the Whack-A-Mole game, when suppression is used to quell the other side(s), they always pop up again in different places, making for endless whacking. Unlike the game, in real life the moles whack back.
Let’s join together and not be moles. Look for the results that we all want in any area. Better schools. Respect for life. Sane, balanced approaches to guns, crime and immigration. An economy that allows for all willing and able to prosper, and for those willing and unable to be encouraged and supported. The list goes on. Find the facts pertaining to the desired results, and use non agenda-driven logic applied to those facts to find the solutions. Then implement together with a common passion.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.