My friend Mario Nicolais, who writes for the excellent Colorado Sun, this morning recommended an Atlantic article to his Facebook friends: “Jonathan Haidt Is Trying to Heal America’s Divisions.” It’s a worthy read and I hope Mario will take it up in a forthcoming Sun column.
I’m trying to frame my own response to Haidt’s hopefulness and I’m having trouble. I think you reach a point where hope is harder and harder to come by. Try your best, do your best, but the forces tightening around you leave little promise for anything but conflict.
I try to hang on to hope, but I pay less attention to possibilities than I do probabilities.
I’m exhausted by people who believe our “divisions” are the problem. That’s like believing the problem is all the blood on the floor. No, the problem is the sucking chest wound the blood is coming from. Divisions are the effect, not the cause.
The problem is the assortment of pathologies defining the coalition on our political “right.” Racism. Misogyny. Willful, enthusiastic ignorance. Greed and obscene economic inequity. Jingoism. Narrow, spiteful “faith” and religious bullying. The psychosexual fetishization of guns and violence as a first-resort response to anything and everything. Homophobia. Braying dishonesty. The refusal to accept or empathize with those who are demographically other.
The problem is our neglect and abuse of those unable to fend for themselves and our general willingness to tolerate incalculable misery. The problem is hypocrisy on a scale we’ve never even imagined, let alone seen in the wild.
The Democrats are appalling in their own right, but the GOP has become the Party of the Seven Deadly Sins. They’re the malevolent repudiation of every word Jesus is believed to have spoken.
Conservatives sometimes say “Liberals” are “trying to destroy their way of life.” They’re right. The things they believe, the ideologies and ignorance they cling to, these are anti-human and anti-social. They’re the values upon which you build a primitive tribe, not a modern society. Those beliefs are an anchor around the neck of our shared future and they must be eradicated.
This is where we are. This is where I am:
I’m not going to “reach out.”
I don’t want to “come together.”
I have no interest in “finding common ground” where there is none.
I don’t want to “understand the perspectives” of those who care only for their own. I know those perspectives and understand them plenty already.
I’m sure as hell not interested in “compromise.” I don’t compromise with fascists, feudalists, or terrorists.
No. I don’t want to “heal our divisions.” I want to destroy the ignorance, ideologies, and institutions that cause and sustain those divisions.
I stand for equality of opportunity. I stand for empathy. I stand for justice and a code of law that doesn’t care about the color of your skin or the size of your daddy’s wallet. I believe in universal education and I believe in the “greatest country on Earth” no one should want for healthcare, shelter, or food.
I believe there is zero correlation between a person’s essential value and his or her material wealth.
None of this – not one syllable – is negotiable.