Truths or Opinions
A couple of days ago an elderly gentleman I know told me proudly that he voted for Donald Trump. In our conversation he said that he is not a bigot or a racist and all he wanted was for Donald Trump to get rid of criminal immigrants, such as the members of the MS-13 gang in California. He did not want the crooked Hilary to win, so the option of abstaining from voting or voting for an independent candidate was not on the table for him. He assured me that Mr. Trump was not going to force my family to register on some government list so that they can keep track of us. He never believed that was a possibility. He was horrified when he learned about some local kids shouting “Build the wall!” at a football game where the opposing team was from a town with a large population of Latin American immigrants. He wanted us to have a civil political discussion and even though we clearly saw things differently we could still remain normal and abstain from name-calling and object-throwing behavior.
I have been forcing myself to hear the other side. In the past few weeks I refused to read CNN, BBC, Huffington Post and other “liberal” news sites in hope to gain a different perspective, to find the truth regardless of who is telling it. I have been browsing redstate.com, thehill.com and chicksontheright.com blogs. I wanted to find a small speck of sanity in the opposing views that would assure me that somewhere, somehow, my life, my normalcy, would be protected. Bring it on, you conservative masses, fifty million of you, bring it on, I want to hear what you have to say.
So far redstate.com and thehill.com are both struggling with the fact that Donald Trump won the elections. Even the conservative content writers on these websites are concerned about some of the initial appointments that the President-elect made. They are not fans of Hillary, mind you, but they are not pleased with the company that Mr.Trump is keeping, or the fact that his children are involved in the process so extensively. They are not convinced that Mr.Trump will be able to distance himself from his business ventures, enough to remain clear of possible conflict of interest of him being the leader of the country and his business involvements.
Chicksontheright.com is an interesting find for me. I expected a reasonable conservative blog, but what I found are bunch of links to some less than reputable posts. One of the contributing bloggers Hannah Bleau (aka Red Dawn) and her broad statements and strokes with which she paints a picture of the real feminist she claims to be while calling the entertainment industry progressive and clearly stating that she considers herself conservative, fascinate me. She does not explain why in her mind progressive is bad. I further researched Hannah's background and I found that she is a recent college graduate who won an award for an opinion piece about the gun-carrying policy on her campus (you can find this link on her website https://hannahcbleau.wordpress.com/) She was underage at the time this opinion piece was published. In the piece she notes that when she reaches the legal age to carry a concealed weapon she should be able to bring it on campus in order to protect herself, because she is scared to walk to her car. This award opinion piece contains no opposing view consideration, no good supporting evidence to her statements, other than, a crook would think twice about attacking her if she had a gun. I am baffled that awards are being given for writing that contains no research whatsoever.
So far my quest to learn the "other and opposing side" lead me to understanding the importance of different perspectives when forming one's opinion. My opinion pieces are written from a perspective of someone who, in her short life span, lived through a war, lost her home, moved to another country at the age of nineteen and worked for the past fourteen years in American manufacturing industry, all while bearing two children, purchasing a home, dealing with the housing crash that left me holding a condo that was unsellable. For those of you, who have been reading my posts, you are certainly familiar with all this. My perspective is as varied as they come, minus the perspective on "other-than-white" race issues, LGBT and other groups' issues which I do not represent. You want my opinion on how the immigration process works, I can give you one with certainty of someone who went through the grind. You want to know what rights mothers who work for companies that are not Google or Facebook have, let's sit and share a cup of coffee, there is much to tell. I could go on.
There is an abundant amount of information and opinions available online. We are simply unable to adequately sift through them to get to the actual truth. Some truths hurt and they are uncomfortable, however, they must be told. Some opinions are crap and we have to know when to discard them and question the credibility of the source. There is absolutely no investigative journalism or research anymore or true critical thinking. This process is too slow for our generation. All of the news sites twist and turn the words to suit the message they are trying to convey. There are no source citations, no one-on-one interviews, all in the interest of getting the story out there, online, fast. Opinions are formed so quickly and there is no filter anymore. These are perspectives, not facts.
Therefore, I am trying to delve into what caused my elderly gentleman to vote for Mr. Trump and claim that he is fully accepting of my family and me. I am trying to reconcile the goodness of my American host family from Indiana, their activism and commitment to diversity and acceptance. I am trying to put people in silos which could help me form an informed theory: the friends I made in America, Ms Hannah Blue, Mr. Bannon and Mr.Trump, etc. I am trying to see what young Hannah sees, what my elderly gentleman friend sees. A writer, Aleksandar Hemon points out "self-comforting fallacy" that is used when discussing racism (insert any other hate inducing belief), "one has to intend racism to be a real racist". He believes that it has to do with the feelings one has when forming an opinion about a particular topic. I think it has to do with perspectives.
Although I do not know her circumstances, Hannah strikes me as a nice girl, who grew up in a nice family, forming her opinions surrounded by people of similar views. I may be wrong, but somehow her posts, absent of all alternative thoughts or considerations sound too one-dimensional to be inclusive of anything different. Her perspective is one-sided. She does not trouble herself with trying to change her perspective and learn something different.
Mr. Elderly Gentlemen seemed to have had a good life. He continues to work, even though he is past his retirement age, comfortable in his cocoon, I guess afraid that immigrant-thugs would come and take away his comforts or crooked Hilary would give it all away.
My black friends are faced with encounters of the racist-kind every day. I cannot claim I understand their perspective, but I am willing to try, by putting myself in those situations, substituting the race factor with something else, being an immigrant, or belonging to a different religion, etc. My immigrant/refugee friends respect what they have in a different way than those who never lost anything do. Perspectives are varied. Most human beings are not capable of viewing the world from the other side. It is very, very hard. It is not something that is in our nature. We step into this world as very selfish beings, without empathy. We learn to recognize feelings of others, our I-ness and our window of reference is something that our higher-self must change in order to be able to see what others see.
There are communication courses (if you are in the business world or management) that teach empathy for the fellow workers. These workers may not be capable to perform a job in the same way that another colleague would. We need to accept that and work with it. Premise being that we all have different viewpoints.
Mr. Hemon argues that the 2016 election results are related to the feelings of individual voters and subsequently curses the notion that the feelings are somehow considered "more authentic than fact or thought". Feelings are closely related to our world-viewing window. We cannot change the feelings until our society's perspective changes. This can only happen if we continue to grow diverse society that will allow us to get closer to people of different religions, race, gender orientation. If we strive to keep the society pure, we cannot hope to change our perspective enough to see what other truths are out there.
John Stewart, in a recent interview, said that the USA is an anomaly. We are not a tribe, we come from various cultures and backgrounds and what we have built up for the past two hundred years is unusual and new and that it is normal to go through turbulent times where our views will differ widely.
There will be more and more people with varied perspectives as the wars spread throughout our world. There will be people who will flee their circumstances and those who will flee their homes due to the natural disasters. We cannot stop this. We will be intertwined with those who have different perspectives and eventually we will be facing their opinions on the web or while commuting, more and more.
If you want to form an opinion, be sure to turn the page and look at the other side. Come on, don't be afraid. A different opinion or an uncomfortable fact won't kill you. It may make you mad, but it will also make you think. Change your perspective, it is refreshing to do so. Changing perspectives of our children will lead to a change in the USA. How? We will wait and see.