I was thinking of doing a post on opinions and keeping an open mind and not demonizing one's opponents and so forth. Then I came across a column in the Village Voice (of all places) that said it better than I ever could.
The political blog Ace of Spades introduced me to this item. Ace does a great job of setting the table. He talks about how goofy the columnist is, how he tweets absurd messages and weird pics of himself, how he writes silly songs and apparently considers himself a master of the art of partying. All of this is intended to convince us that the guy cannot possibly have anything intelligent to say, and that his reply to a reader's question about getting along with his "right-wing a--hole" father will be a comical exercise.
And then we get a surprise (bold emphases added by me):
Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn't one. You've reduced your father -- the person who created you -- to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don't consider your dad a person of his own standing -- he's just "your dad." You've also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that's left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn't satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.
The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.
When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings. When we truly believe that some people are monsters, that they fundamentally are less human than we are, and that they deserve to have less than we do, we ourselves become the monsters. When we allow our emotions to be hypnotized by the excitement of petty bickering about seemingly important topics, we drift further and further away from the fragile and crucial human bond holding everything together. When we anticipate with ferocious glee the next chance we have to prove someone "wrong" and ourselves "right," all the while disregarding the vast complexity of almost every subject -- not to mention the universe as a whole -- we are reducing the beauty and magic of life to a "side" or a "type," or worst of all, an "answer." This is the power of politics at its most sinister.
And much more. As they say on the intertubes, read the whole thing.