Last time, I wrote about a woman that was threatening to divorce her husband because he was a Trump supporter. They had been married for five years. She knew he was a Republican before they had gotten married, but they were obviously married before the age of Trump. It’s obvious she naturally assumed he would be opposed to Trump. That assumption was obviously wrong.
Some of the responders on the left seemed to naturally assume that the man in question was emotionally stunted. A recent post from PsyPost asserted that people with lower emotional intelligence are more likely to hold right-wing views. It was published on September 3, 2019. So, it’s not completely up to date, but it seems close.
Yet, that seems to be one of the reflexive things we say when we want to denigrate an opponent. We insult their intelligence or in this case say they are emotionally stunted. The other side does it too when they call liberalism a sickness. These things are usually done to shut down debate. It feeds into that whole, “I can’t understand why you….” My wife even caught me doing it when I uttered, “I don’t know what I can do for you” after someone uttered an inane comment on Twitter or Facebook.
We all need to grow emotionally. Often times these pieces that I write serve to work as therapy. They drudge up memories of when I might not have been as enlightened as I am today. I won’t be as enlightened as I will be in the future. That’s how life works. Growing up where I did, I really grew up in a bubble. We were all generally sheltered and even people that would technically be called ethnic minrities tended to have the same cultural background as the rest of us. Their parents worked professional jobs and were educated. So, encountering different people in college and later on in life was a learning experience.
When I wrote about interracial marriages in the last post, I was reminded of a situation I found myself in in college. A friend invited me to go to a school function with her. We had had several classes togather and always got along. I liked her and was attracted to her, but I assumed she wouldn’t be attracted to me. Part of that is probably because I was never much of a player, but the other part was that she was black and I was white. As it turns out, her invitation was not only meant to be us going as friends, but maybe her way of reaching out. I could look back at it as a blown opportunity, but I am also happily married. So, I chalk it up as more of a learning experience.
This growth continued throughout my teaching career. When I look back on the way that I sometimes acted I cringe. I don’t know that I had any particular malice in my heart. I just didn’t necessarily know any better. Admittedly, I have not always been an effective teacher. Part of that is my failing. I sometimes struggled with discipline. Some of that is based on the fact that I have always been too nice. Yet, I could be easily frustrated and frustration often leads to anger. It has been a lot easier working in the capacity I do now. I can be nice and built a report with students no matter who they are or what their background is.
What does this have to do with politics? It’s really simple. It is easy to feel superior in a conversation. It’s a defense mechanism that allows us to ignore what someone else is saying when what they say challenges deeply held beliefs that we have. They don’t have the facts or they are just a racist asshole. That’s the easy way out.
The hard way is to remember that we are all flawed people and are all on a journey to become the best version of ourselves. That’s the downside of reflexively calling someone a racist. First, we deny our own beliefs that we may hold or may have held. Secondly, we put someone else in a defensive posture where they will be reluctant to do a serious self evaluation. It’s always good to look inward every now and then to really check ourselves. It’s uncomfortable to admit that I may have been one too at one time even if I didn’t necessarily hate anyone.
It’s a delicate balance. I am usually ineffective in debates because I am not secure enough in my own opinion to fight back as hard as I should. I allow that doubt to consume me. It can be disjarring to see people who are seemingly so sure in something that seems so wrong to me. My sincerest hope is that everyone reevaluates their beliefs, attitudes, and emotional growth at least on occasion. Emotional growth is not a liberal thing. It’s not a conservative thing. It’s a human thing. We need more of it these days.