Ever wonder why people get so emotionally worked up when discussing politics? My answer to this question is ultimately why years ago I chose to be a liberal.
It comes down to human nature and the fact humans are tribal by nature. Tribalism isn’t limited to where our ‘group’ lives, or appears, or behaves. It extends to how our group thinks as well. We are social animals, which means we rely on each other to survive. We have to depend on the group, or we have nothing.
Luckily, in modern times we have the luxury to choose what our tribe is. Some choose their relatives, some choose their race, and some choose their political affiliation. In the past, though, we didn’t get to choose. Our tribe was our literal tribe. In the past, and even still in some places in the world, wherever we’re born, that was the only choice we had for who we depend on.
‘Politics’ is just how our tribe chooses to operate. Do we invade or stay where we are? Do we allow a certain couple to marry or do we choose who people marry and force it upon them? Do we provide for the poor, or do we let them starve to death?
With all this being said, the reason politics is so divisive is because, these days, we still have tribes, and we have a large variety of tribes, and all those different tribes all live on the same land. That, naturally, makes coexistence a constant difficulty. Every tribe wants something different, even though we should all want the same thing: peaceful coexistence.
I am a liberal. According to dictionary.com, a liberal is someone who “advocates the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.”
Basically, this means that I understand we are all individuals and I want every individual to live their life as they want to, even if I don’t want that lifestyle for myself, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. I understand that many people want to be racially tribal, or politically tribal, or tribal with their home land, or tribal with their sexual orientation, and thus, I say go for it, as long as your tribe doesn’t hurt the others, or its own members.
Unfortunately, politics is used by many people as their own type of tribalism. If you identify as ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive’ or whatever, then chances are good that you carry the opinion that your political views are superior to all others. Whatever your political identity, there are millions of people who also have that political identity, and that automatically makes it tribal. This is dangerous, though, because this makes it very, very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that anyone who disagrees with your views is evil. Thus, anyone who isn’t part of your political tribe is evil, which is the essence of tribalism in general.
You’ll find yourself thinking that anyone who openly disagrees with your political opinions is attacking you personally, and your tribe, which is also foolish and dangerous.
Tribalism isn’t the only reason politics can be so divisive. It’s also the fact that politics exists in general because humans are imperfect creatures who need each other to figure out how to improve their living standards, stay safe, and stay healthy. But everyone has a different view on how to achieve the highest possible standard of living, and everyone has a different opinion on what the ‘highest possible standard of living’ even is.
And thus, we discuss politics…. Or, we argue.
Don’t forget the fact that some people actually are evil, but also don’t forget to NEVER assume everyone who disagrees with you is. Sometimes people disagree with you because you actually are wrong. Think things through to reasonably discern between immoral people and misguided people. You yourself could be either of those things too.
Now for my possibly-flawed human opinion on which side is the better side.
Liberalism, true liberalism, is the only way we can live peacefully. I believe that 100%. You have to believe in peaceful coexistence, or else there won’t be peace. This is why, as just one example, liberals should universally be against communism and socialism, because if we all choose our own paths in life, we will have different destinations. With communism, the government would force everyone to be the same in all aspects of life, and that is just as bad as forcing some to be inferior while making others superior.
The funny thing about liberals is: they (we) technically are part of the left side of the political spectrum, but that doesn’t mean liberals agree with, or even like, the rest of the left. Female supremacists (who call themselves ‘feminists’ but really aren’t), any minority demographic supremacists, Social Justice Warriors, Antifa, socialists, communists, etc., are all part of the left, but I don’t like any of those groups. Most people who think of ‘radical liberals’ always think of one (or all) of these groups. But that’s hilariously inaccurate. Those groups are radically left-wing, but not liberals. In truth, a radical liberal is a hippie. I can’t imagine a hippie tearing down a Starbucks simply because they don’t like the new president. Seriously, look at Antifa and then look at hippies and then tell me with a straight face that they’re the same.
Politics doesn’t have to be divisive, but human nature is a dangerous thing when it goes unchecked in society, or in our own individual minds. We must constantly question our beliefs, question our actions, have civil discussion even with people we don’t like, and most importantly, change our minds when we know we are wrong. Politics is only divisive when we don’t accept others’ harmless differences. But hey, maybe that’s just my liberal agenda speaking.