Oct 18, 2009

The Folly of "Us" and "Them" Thinking

A friend of whom I'm fond, posted a provocative piece on Facebook recently. It was written by a FB friend of his, whom I'll call Sue.

Titled Random Thoughts On The Difference Between “Us” And “Them” it's a 9-point list which begins with the following:

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, they don’t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, then no one should have one.

Points 2 and 7 are in a similar vein:

If a conservative is a vegetarian, they don’t eat meat.
If a liberal is, they want to ban all meat products for everyone.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

I think these are valid observations. The Left thinks of itself as tolerant, but often it doesn't behave that way.

The difficulty, however, is that Sue implies that the Right is composed of broad-minded free-thinkers by comparison. Not quite. I left this comment on Facebook, beneath Sue's list:

Some valid points, but alas, life is perhaps not so simple. Many conservatives have their own laundry list of things they want to prevent other people from doing:
  • watching pornos
  • smoking pot
  • drinking booze (there still are dry counties)
  • marrying someone of their own sex
  • having an abortion
Independents like moi are kept busy fending off the busybodies from both directions.

I felt my contribution was polite and respectful. Nevertheless, Sue's response was telling. She likes to present herself as tolerant, but when she encounters someone who values different things than she does, she's quick to reach for the ridicule. Here's the response she posted a few hours later:

i won't be complete until I'm smokin pot and chuggin' a brewski, while watching cheap porn with my newlywed lesbian lover, after having had my abortion after that crappy "other" relationship folded. yeah! Now I am really liberated, unopressed and my life is complete! burp! do I feel better now!!! thanks for the input.

The moral of this story is that there is no "Us" and "Them." The more we insist we're better than other people, the more we embrace the very characteristics we say we despise.

True tolerance is hard work.