America. It’s a divided place. This is no great revelation born of years and years of study and contemplation, but a conclusion one can make by scanning the Internet or television or media of your choice for ten seconds.
One-third hates the other third, and the remaining third doesn’t care.
But those two side that hate each other, boy is there a lot of enmity.
This “blue state/red state” divide has gotten worse since these terms came into vogue around 2004.
The red side accuses the blue side of living in a bubble. The blue side claims the bubble is a myth.
The bubble is a myth? Please. I live in it.
I’ve got a red-state core but I love and travel in blue-state circles, so I notice things others might not.
There’s a lot of hate, yes, but there’s is precious little understanding about why.
And I think this is a big problem.
It’s as important to understand why the other side hates you as it is to understand why you hate the other side.
I hear a lot of the affluent, highly educated urbanites laugh at Trump’s constituency, but underneath the indignation and political disagreement is a layer of genuine hurt: These folks don’t understand why many reject them and the work that they do.
Being called the “deep state” for merely doing their job. Distrusted as the cause of economic misery. And worst, being accused of not caring, which to this set is what really stings.
They’re supposed to be the compassionate ones! What gives?
I have a theory. You see, I grew up in and lived for many years in communities and around people where the good times weren’t rolling on and on and on.
Jobs were leaving and never coming back.
People were losing their homes.
Crime was up, and no one seemed to care.
My home region is now in the grip of a heroin epidemic. Heroin!
People were getting sick and going broke getting treatment.
They couldn’t afford to send their kids to any kind of post-secondary school to get the kind of education required for jobs in this “knowledge economy,” and no help was forthcoming.
And to top it all off, they were called bigoted, backwards, stupid white trash who deserved this, and yet were simultaneously privileged…by you!
Yes, you, who purport to be for these people, people left with not much other than despair and resentment.
And it’s not just poor whites hurt, believe me. I saw poverty and misery at my old job, every day. Poverty and misery truly cut across all demographic lines.
Do you want to achieve true equality? Make everybody equally poor and miserable.
To top it off, if you live work in D.C., New York City, Boston, Austin, San Francisco, and other wealthy enclaves, you’re seen as benefitting from a system that seems to only benefit you at everyone else’s expense.
I’m focusing on the left-side here because the right-side seems to know why they are reviled. They hear and see it every day in the news, political pundits, in the arts, literature, books, movies, TV, music, universities, and from government itself.
But these “blue staters” aren’t bad people by any stretch. Far from it! But they need to understand why they are hated as much as they are and admit their own biases.
They need to do what they accuse the other side of never doing: Expand their horizons.
If you understand why you’re hated, you will learn to communicate with the other side in a way that they will not only hear, but listen to.
There are four ways out of this: Secession, totalitarianism, actual war followed by secession or totalitarianism, and working it out.
I much prefer this last one. But in order to get there, it’s going to take humility and compassion from all parties involved.
Which is why I doubt it will happen. But I’ll just keep on praying.
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