If your social media accounts are anything like mine, you’ve got a pretty diverse set of “friends.” Our social media accounts are often a reflection of our experiences since it allows you to reconnect with people you had the most minimal encounter with. Lets consider my social media page as a reflection of my life. I have religious friends since many of my family and friends are. I have secular friends since institutionalized faith is not for everyone. There are Conservatives and Liberals, Republicans and Democrats and smart and not so smart people. So sometimes, the things I post/share are met with contempt and sometimes agreement but mostly, ignored because I’m also Xcano / Latino and part of the one of the most uneducated demographics in the U.S. I’ve been in the military and in higher education settings allowing me to experience both ends of the mental spectrum.
Recently I shared an article on my personal Facebook page with an image depicting a woman and toddler girls in the photo with tape over their mouths and the elder male holding a sign which read “Peace on Earth” while the male child was posturing a “thumbs up” as in approval; it was met with disgust from some and approval by others. The discussion quickly turned aggressive because one of my conservative leaning friends engaged in name calling and making assumptions about the women who were trying to educate him and respond to his comments. This got me thinking about how easy it is for anyone to dismiss other people’s positions.
I don’t’ party affiliate (take democratic or republican sides) but I have my views. In this case, they certainly didn’t align with this gentleman’s point-of-view (POV). I was actually pretty disturbed at how willing he was to be dismissive of intellectual dialogue and how easily he rejected the notion that he could be wrong in his claims which says little of how disappointed I was with his complete lack of respect for my friends. I then received private messages from others like him (whom I’d served in the military with) asking, “what happened to you?” “Have you become a traitor to your country?” … this actually happens a lot
Here’s my insight …
I can understand the positions many conservatives take on issues. Many of the Conservatives I know are either veterans or closely attached to their sense of patriotism. They need factual based evidence to substantiate their arguments and hide behind legislative “ah-hahs” to validate their reasoning. Many times, their ideology aligns with the “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” mentality but often forgets that not everyone has boots. While I tend to dissect the understanding that law dictates human interaction, it causes a riff between my Conservative leaning friends and I. I get it already!
Look, I get that your identity is intimately ascribed to the notion that if you did it, everyone else can but listen. You’re not everyone else and everyone else isn’t you! To think that your status as a Veteran some how bestows privilege on you that others don’t have is a silly notion … and before you say you don’t, take some time to be honest with yourself and see that you do. Here’s a reality check for you though, the world is not as absolute as you’d like to think it is. It’s evolving faster than our laws can keep up with. This is why dialogue is important. So we can continue the debate in public spaces accommodating the inevitable to happen instead of keeping with the same outdated conservative views. You have to be willing to effectively and openly discuss though. This means setting aside your views/differences to find a way to engage in societal problems for a larger purpose than yourself.
I get that you need reasoning. A lot of times we believe the reasoning of law because we fought defending it but the reality is we fought defending a way of life and an individual’s right to interpret how life should be lived free of persecution for their views. When Conservatives impose their beliefs simply because it aligns with legislative agendas and fiscal arguments, it shuts off dialogue in some spaces where evolution is occurring everyday. I’m a veteran who cares about everyone’s right to freedom whether I like their version of it or not; humanity’s especially. But here’s why mine differs from yours …
I have compassion. Compassion for experiences that are not my own. Compassion for things I don’t understand. The way many people have blind faith in a deity they can’t see, I have blind faith in a humanity that can create change. I don’t need a law to tell me how to be a good person, I just give it a shot and BAM!, it happens. I don't need your Conservative rhetoric telling me how to be responsible either. Our socially constructed laws do not dictate the kind of person I’m going to become and neither does religion. Disagreeing with a person’s views doesn’t make me bad, it means I’m exercising the right to freedom I’ve fought for and fought for others to have. But if I were to ridicule and insult in the process, that would change things.
It’s my compassion that keeps me open-minded and unafraid of change. If I assume anything, it’s that people are innately good. But here’s why it seems I argue more than anything else. I’m intimately attached to issues that are prevalent in national discourse today. Healthcare, immigration, gun violence, police brutality against people of color; these are all issues living in the communities I live and work in. I see their effects first hand and I’ve personally experienced them as well. I’m not seeing them through a television set where I can sit back and judge them from afar. I see what is important and see what kind of impact we need. I’m invested because I want the world and burden it comes with to be as minimal as possible for my grandkids.
Look Conservative peeps … no one is trying to silence your voice or take back Aztlán from the U.S., get that silliness out of your mouths. I just care … obviously more than others. Also, before you start crying about budget reforms and how detrimental my caring is for the national debt, consider the political views you have, who they support and ask yourself if your thinking can use some overhauling.
But don’t worry … because you care more about your bottom line than humanity, I’ll care enough for all of you too.
- El León
Born in San Anto, raised by the barrio, educated by both.