There is a deeper danger than Donald Trump.
There is a growing divide that may soon rival the economic disparity between the haves and have-nots. It is not the differences of opinion. It is the disdain for those differences. The absolute certainty there is no truth but my own. This may very well be the foundation for the atrocities human beings inflict upon one another.
I am watching it take apart the party of peace, compassion and equality. Democrats, moderates, liberals, progressives, activists and advocates are ripping each other to shreds.
Let the war begin…
It started during the primaries with Hillary and Bernie wars. The presumption of the Clinton candidacy was shared not only by the political establishment but by people who mourned her loss in 2008. They believed in her vision, her abilities, her leadership. They were called Hillbots, Hillarists, HillShills, in total denial of Clinton’s limitations.
Bernie Sanders was an unlikely contender and his success in caught people by surprise. Presumptions were challenged and consensus could no longer be assumed. Sanders followers were inspired, motivated and believed in his vision of a better America. They were called Bernie Bros,groups of angry white men, naive, living in a fantasy world.
Throughout the nomination process, our disdain for one another grew. Hillary was a liar and a neocon; Bernie wasn’t even a real Democrat and was against gun control. We picked a side and if you thought otherwise – you were deluded, a moron, in denial.
We set up our camps and coordinated our talking points. We prodded each other into argument. We told each other to fuck off. We gleefully blocked and unfriended – morally outraged by the stupidity of the other side. Misinformation abounded, shared and repeated until any vestige of truth was obscured. Our bubbles were protected at all costs. There was no dialogue – only a plan of attack.
This is what we did. This is where we were. Then we lost.
An ugly momentum
It was to be expected, I suppose, the period of finger pointing that followed. The accusations and “I told you so’s” flew from both camps. Hurt was nurtured, doom was prophesied and fault laid at the feet of the other.
What perhaps wasn’t expected is the damage from the fault lines – cracks in the very ideals we allege to stand for. We have grown far too comfortable with attack. Disdain is addictive – the rush of superiority, the absolute power of being right. No need for dialogue, when we can dictate the truth.
Is peace just a meme?
Disdain for one another is growing and not just in that “other party.” Not just among radical racists or rapists or zealots or profiteers, but between us. The intensity of our conflict has created a culture of accusation. For all the talk of normalization, our lack of trust in one another is not much of a topic. It should be.
Surely an occasional betrayal is an easier burden than the inability to learn from each other, to seek understanding, to be helpful to one another? Are we only advocates of peace when there is no battle to conduct?
We are becoming defined by our differences, not our common human condition. That is the problem with war – it changes people. It has changed me and I don’t like it.
You’re wrong, say the passionate defenders of “the cause.” You don’t understand. You can’t possibly understand. You’re wrong. And if you are not with me, you must be against me. You and everyone like you.
We need to stop, before it’s too late. Not to stop standing up – but to stop energizing the conflict. To stop separating ourselves into angry groups. To stop engaging in senseless argument, to stop pretending that the hundreds of forgotten hashtags in our wake are an actual contribution to the greater good.
It’s time to be an example. To naively act as if peace, love and kindness matter.