Everyone’s A Bigot

Yes. On politics. In an indirect, circumnavigating fashion, really. In fact, I will not mention any candidate’s name in this post yet it will become quickly apparent that a select two stand in the forefront of my mind. But not mentioning names hopefully will make my thoughts more universal and “personal blog-like” than your typical op-ed piece.

I honestly don’t know what else to blog about because there’s been nothing else substantive on my mind, anyway. The truth of the matter is, I don’t usually discuss politics on here. (If you haven’t noticed.) However, in the most cynical way, I think this particular presidential election is really cause for celebration. For the first time in a presidential campaign, the media has the opportunity to exploit accusations of racism and sexism. All at once. Now, whether such accusations are true or not is up to you to decide. But just the precedent that this election brings is truly remarkable to me. Not long ago, did I ever think it realistic that a woman or a member of a racial minority might run with a viable chance of winning office in my lifetime. These past few and upcoming months have made both choices possible.

So, these labels, then. With the media of today, I call it Death By Isms (n.). Because if you’re judged as being an -Ist (n./adj.) or you/r campaign are associated with one, supposedly your political career is over. And I guess these are important character traits flaws to not have. I don’t mean necessarily that people should be more afraid to call others racist and sexist, though it may be of my personal opinion that it really can’t hurt to be more cautious to throw those things around.

Morever, I think that people fail to recognize that they themselves definitively are not. Every day we add to the crop of reasons from which to cherry pick from as evidence that this candidate or her campaign finance manager or his media consultant is ___-ist. And then we get on our high horses and judge. We overlook some “evidence” in favor of other signs depending on which suits our personal politics more.

It’s the character game. Apparently politicians, what with their pushing themselves into the spotlight on our behalf, deserve to be measured up to a higher standard, and so we milk this right to judge. And therein lies the justification for our empathic failure.

It’s failure to put oneself in another person’s shoes while operating under the false presumption that we got brand new, limited edition Manolo’s on. We all know that physically putting oneself in another’s spot is impossible. But empathy – when practiced – simply eliminates the us vs. them mentality. It’s magical, really. The zero-sum game suddenly disappears and we are all on one side as long as everyone is empathic. And then – if possible – it becomes a goal of working on and solving things together. It’s baffling to me when people insist on the existence of “them” and the impossibility of an all-inclusive “us.” And there I go again, with that Hope Speech. Maybe Hope Speech is just bad politics. Well, good.

On bigotry. We all have our biases, and chances are those biases sometimes apply to other people. Directly. I think we’d be lying if we pretended we didn’t have any and said we considered all other living, human beings in their infinite glory as equal in our own infinite wisdom. *snort* Yes, infinite. C’mon. On first glance? Seriously?

Admit it – some people are bigoted against visually unappealing people. So okay, if you insist you are 100% non-racist then maybe you’re just shallow. That is still bias, but you’re just lucky that you got away with “shallow” not etymologically morphing into an -ism in the English language. Just for the purposes of this post, I call you people uglists.

I find it interesting when people in fortunate positions act as though they’ve gotten to where they are purely on their own merit (and no luck), and those in the unfortunate ones must have done something to “deserve” theirs.

So unless you’ve never been wrong about someone, maybe it’s just because you’ve never had the interest or time to get to know that person. Or maybe you couldn’t appreciate the fact that you were wrong about that person because that meant that … well, you were wrong. There was a time when I couldn’t handle being wrong because that meant I was worth less, so I can sympathize a bit (especially if, say, you’re a teenager still).

The idea of not conforming to what other people commonly presume me to behave like for possessing an extra X chromosome is entirely appealing to me. And I like that the smaller minds can’t handle that which doesn’t fit into their neatly arranged box, because then I know I need not worry what they especially think (or can even have fun rubbing those confines in their face). Especially when they ask if I can keep up at the top of the first run they’ve ever taken with me on the slopes, or appear disgusted when I emit a 3-second belch (the next one will be 6 seconds). The rookies at work who are horrified by the boys’ locker room talk in my presence and I’m a five year veteran – or the accusations of my unlady-like behavior as if invoking any ounce of shame within me are entirely comical.

So yeah. Us and them doesn’t happen if you can even bother fathoming what the other might have dealt with, is still dealing with. That maybe if you’ve seen a pattern or a trend, be open to the idea that the next person might break it. Then again, it’s hard to do that if you’re just self-absorbed. You gotta take care of that first. I understand. Seriously, the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes is pure freedom – freedom from yourself, and everything that’s consumed you in the past. It’s worth it.

Other reading:

Politicians and Psychological Testing
(Mona Ackerman on Huffington Post)

What Do Moral Psychology Values Say About Obama/Clinton Supporters?