Divorcing political theatre and, apparently, a large segment of my social group. OR, why I left the Left.
It’s fair to say, the 20’s have been an eventful decade, less than two years in.
In future, I might remember it as a time when the world as I knew it crumbled into something damp and dark, before springing forth a new and contagious energy that would fundamentally change the way we live with our fellow humans, or whether we continue to exist in the current format at all. In my vision, in the wake of this furious shaking, a fertility of life emerges creating new paths, separate from the corrupt systems of our past. (I hope) I will point to the 20’s as a time when political theatre fell, as the curtain was retracted once and for all, and the many wizards were revealed-I point to this time because I believe it will highlight a period when corruption became so blatant, so pervasive, that many were left with no choice but to take a stand or be named complicit. We stand at the very precipice of this action-but we need more who are willing to surrender their old ideas to reach the point of spontaneous synchronicity that pushes us in a new (and wonderful) direction. Without drastic action, we risk falling backwards into the abyss of our past mistakes, cursed to repeat them.
Its important to stress that while I have openly left the Left, I haven’t joined some other faction, either. My values haven’t changed, and it’s because of these values that I no longer wish to be connected to my former mindset, uniform, identity, political personae, or whatever you want to call that façade we use to prance our labels and opinions out for others to judge. This is something of a search to find resonance amongst people. If you want to understand why I feel betrayed by my former allies and heroes, one need look no further than the free speech argument. As a fairly cynical and typically outspoken gen Xer, our battle cry was simple “I may not like what you say, but in defense of free speech, I fight for your right to say it”. It was implied that if we didn’t want to hear it, we didn’t expose ourselves to it. We were never fighting for our right to broadcast an opinion while smothering anyone we didn’t like-we were armed with critical thinking, and greater emotional fortitude and problem-solving. We didn’t peer into in each others windows, and then complain about what we saw. We learned how to take responsibility for what we consumed, rather than asking society to gather around us and protect us from any discomfort, while we roam free. To be our filtre as we navigate the world. We have never, ever needed more filtres between us and our environment, but more filtres is exactly what we will get. We have lost the plot about ownership of experience completely. I will use an analogy from a recent driving lesson with my son: in trying to explain what to do when there is a car or other obstruction on the side of the road-who yields, and who passes? I explained to him that when it comes to driving, and life, it matters whether you are entering or leaving the flow and it matters whether the bullshit happened to you, or to someone else, first. If the bullshit happened to you-that is your bullshit. While you may seek help for your bullshit, you do it with the understanding it is yours. If the car is parked on the side of the road you are travelling-the bullshit happened to you-you must yield, wait for any passing traffic to finish, and then you can merge around the obstruction and continue on. Sometimes, drivers will immediately pull into the oncoming lane to pass the obstacle. They may even think, “if I drive fast, I can beat the oncoming car”…but they are not correct. Why? The bullshit was in their lane. It happened to them. Why should they be granted superior status when it comes to inconvenience? Now, the person without the obstruction might decide to be kind, and wave you through. They might might wait or flash their lights to let you know they see you-this is a lovely gesture and you can and should accept it if offered, but you don’t get to decide that someone else should manage your bullshit just so that you don’t have to. That is not helpful.
As a parent, I have long preached the principles of “fair not equal”. In the fair model, everybody gets what they need. In the equal model, everybody gets the same. The problem with the equal model is that everyone doesn’t have the same needs, and in trying to find that common ground, most will end up having needs left unmet. From a resource management standpoint this is utterly unwise.Children have different emotional needs, and when an unexpected happens, like having a child with special needs, you realize how ludicrous and naïve it is to try and parent, or for that matter, lead a team at work, using an “everyone gets equal” model. Unfortunately, the Left has lost the plot on this point and we have now descended into a strange reality where the Left does the job of its own enemies, slowly unravelling their own best intentions into a dark mess, void of ethics and guiding principles. The Left has been unable to contain it’s need to virtue signal, such that it has become a way of life so grotesque, that more and more of us are removing our human interactions from social media, to a more person to person connection. I realized in the early Spring of 2020, that a drastic social media diet was needed or I was going to start to truly hate “people”. It wasn’t “Trumpers”, “the far-Right”, or “boomers” that were alarming me-it was my people. The Left. Former cheerleaders for the Underdog, (now constant cheerleaders for virtue superiority and practical hall-monitors of behaviour and thought). It was an embarrassing combination of jostling to appear to be the best and most virtuous community hero, and absolutely middle-class snobbery, demanding that pleebs “get back to work” to solve the labour crisis that kept them standing in line for longer than they liked. People who never missed a day of work or a dollar earned (alas, many saw an increase in wealth!) took aim at the working poor. The obliviously leapt at the throats of the silent-disabled with their rants about anti-maskers. (The worst being those with severe health problems who truly should not be masking, but who WERE masking and wanted other disabled persons to know that if they could suffer and live to post about it, you should suffer too! #savinglives. They marveled at the audacity of people to make choices for themselves and inconvenience droves of other people who never met an inconvenience until now. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t look at it. I slowly began to hate them all.
Even in the midst of a societal freefall so clear that it can probably be seen from space, the Left and Right still preferred to take turns poking each other in the eye and pissing to impress. It’s like they both planned to think about saving humankind right after this next try at bat….but neither of them will. You see, this breed of political theatre-fully is cast and written, almost episodically, intended to keep us focused on 4 year cycles, lest we fall upon the bigger picture-the real change happening all around us, slow and hidden. Thirty and one-hundred year plans perpetually unfolding and being realized- and we are adamantly none-the-wiser. If we looked up long enough, we would laugh at the very idea of Left and Right rivalry. This is also true of racial division, religious division, geographical division, and most other perceived dividers. We would realize that united, we could create any world we wanted-but we would have to sacrifice this two-sided addiction that is built-in to our story, and our traumas. We have to acknowledge that the shadow is within us, it is not our fellow humans. We cannot defeat it outwardly. We would have to leave the story of left and right behind, along with all the other convenient dividers that keep us from realizing we are one, and that as one, we have unique power. A unique power, that power structures fear. I urge you to stop seeing your fellow humans in such divided terms. Not as vaccinated and unvaccinated. Not as left and right. Not as old and young, employed and unemployed…labels prevent us from knowing each other. But even more than that, rid yourself of the ego that lets you believe you hold more value than another human being, and that their opinion should be a deciding factor on upholding their rights. That wanting the best for everyone, means also wanting the best for people you might disagree with, and you have to learn to manage that. You cant build bumpers around society to prevent hard lessons and ugly words. Society demands resilience-I’ve never been more sure of it.
Do you truly want change? Reach across the aisle, if you dare. Better yet, step right out of the holodeck of politics all together. Real change can never happen in divided camps.