[Rushtalk] I *LOVE* This!

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at verizon.net
Tue Aug 12 00:02:04 MDT 2014


Photo by Douglas Anson
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Hi Andrew,

I'm writing because I just can't deal with my father anymore. He's a 
65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned 
into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our 
planet with his politics. I'm more or less a liberal democrat with 
very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going 
to destroy us all. I don't have any good times with him anymore. All 
we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking 
politics or discussing any current events, there's still an 
underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don't get me 
wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that 
his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the 
environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Thanks for your help,
Son of A Right-Winger

See also: 
Andrew W.K.: My Boyfriend Treats Me Badly

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them 
again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to 
find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human 
being, a person, or a man. There isn't one. You've reduced your 
father -- the person who created you -- to a set of beliefs and 
political views and how it relates to you. And you don't consider 
your dad a person of his own standing -- he's just "your dad." You've 
also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your 
relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has 
been reduced to nothingness and all that's left in its place is an 
argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, 
it probably wouldn't satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of 
inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or 
blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is 
being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying 
the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people 
believing they're truly better people than the others who think 
differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs 
conquer love. We must not let this happen.

When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we 
know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world 
view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving 
as full human beings. When we truly believe that some people are 
monsters, that they fundamentally are less human than we are, and 
that they deserve to have less than we do, we ourselves become the 
monsters. When we allow our emotions to be hypnotized by the 
excitement of petty bickering about seemingly important topics, we 
drift further and further away from the fragile and crucial human 
bond holding everything together. When we anticipate with ferocious 
glee the next chance we have to prove someone "wrong" and ourselves 
"right," all the while disregarding the vast complexity of almost 
every subject -- not to mention the universe as a whole -- we are 
reducing the beauty and magic of life to a "side" or a "type," or 
worst of all, an "answer." This is the power of politics at it's most sinister.

At its best, politics is able to organize extremely complex world 
views into manageable and communicable systems so they can be 
grappled with and studied abstractly. But even the most noble efforts 
to organize the world are essentially futile. The best we can usually 
achieve is a crude and messy map of life from one particular vantage 
point, featuring a few grids, bullet points, and sketches of its 
various aspects and landmarks. Anything as infinitely complex as 
life, reality, and the human experience can never be summed up or 
organized in a definitive system, especially one based on "left or 
right," "A or B," "us or them." This is the fatal flaw of binary 
thinking in general. However, this flaw isn't just ignored, it's also 
embraced, amplified, and deliberately used as a weapon on the very 
people who think it's benefiting their way of thinking.

Human beings crave order and simplicity. We cling to the hope that 
some day, if we really refine our world view and beliefs, we can 
actually find the fully correct way to think -- the absolute truth 
and final side to stand on. People and systems craving power take 
advantage of this desire and pit us against each other using a "this 
or that" mentality. The point is to create unrest, disagreement, 
resentment, and anger -- a population constantly at war with itself, 
each side deeply believing that the other is not just wrong, but also 
a sincere threat to their very way of life and survival. This creates 
constant anxiety and distraction -- the perfect conditions for 
oppression. The goal of this sort of politics is to keep people held 
down and mesmerized by a persistent parade of seemingly life-or-death 
debates, each one worth all of our emotional energy and primal passion.

But the truth is, the world has always been and always will be on the 
brink of destruction. And what keeps it from actually imploding is 
our love for life and our deep-seeded desire not to die. Our love for 
our own life is inextricably connected to our love of all life and 
the miracle of this phenomenon we call "the world." We must give all 
of ourselves credit every day for keeping things going. It's an 
incredible achievement to exist at all.

So we must protect and respect each other, no matter how hard it 
feels. No matter how wrong someone else may seem to us, they are 
still human. No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no 
worse than us. Our beliefs and behavior don't make us fundamentally 
better than others, no matter how satisfying it is to believe 
otherwise. We must be tireless in our efforts to see things from the 
point of view we most disagree with. We must make endless efforts to 
try and understand the people we least relate to. And we must at all 
times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not 
because it's nice or because they deserve it, but because our own 
sanity and survival depends on it. And if we do find ourselves pushed 
into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must 
fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as 
ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures.

Love your dad because he's your father, because he made you, because 
he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have 
the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as 
you're so quick to doubt his beliefs. Live with a truly open mind -- 
the kind of open mind that even questions the idea of an open mind. 
Don't feel the need to always pick a side. And if you do pick a side, 
pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and 
has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to.

Your friend,
Andrew W.K.
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