Up to now, you may have noticed ( or maybe not, I don’t know ) that for the most part I have shied away from political posts. I’ve done this more and more over the years because for a couple reasons. For starters, I’m pretty sure no one cares what I think about the latest hot button issue. It took me years to grasp this, and there was a time I would opine on just about anything that came along. But eventually I realized that mine is just one of millions of opinions expressed daily. And you know what they say about opinions.
The other side of that rapidly devaluing coin is, when someone in my position declares their opinion, right away I risk pissing off half of my audience. Sure, this is okay if you’re someone like Stephen King who has written God knows how many best-sellers and it quite comfortable. But when you’re still a widely unknown author who’s maybe, maybe sold four figures in books, you can’t take that chance.
Still, every now and then I see or hear something that gets my gears turning, and makes me feel like now is the time to say something. This is one of those times.
A few days, while scrolling through the dumpster fire formerly known as “Twitter”, a post from someone I don’t follow showed up in my feed. That happens a lot now by the way, even if you want to stay out of the fray, Elon feels you should witness it at least.
Anyhow, the post, which I should have saved, read something along the lines of: “I recently broke off a long term friendship because they continue to support ( presidential candidate ). Am I wrong?”
Now, my inclination was to respond, “Why yes, yes you are,” but I refrained. One, because as I said, mine would be one of thousands of responses and no one really cared. But also, I get the feeling this person knows they are, in fact, in the wrong already, but are simply looking for validation. Chris don’t play ‘dat.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve never been one for those kinds of games, the old “I believe this and if you don’t then unfriend me,” or whatever similar immature statement one can make. Fact is, I think it’s healthy to surround one’s self with people with diverse opinions and viewpoints. This doesn’t mean that I support, agree with or endorse some of those opinions; fact is some of those opinions I simply cannot and do not have respect for.
What I do respect however is the person, even if I think what just came out of their mouth is bat-shit crazy. Because to me there is a vast difference between respecting a person’s right to their opinion and the opinion itself.
So long as it’s kept civil, some of the best conversations we can have is with someone who has a different political or ideological viewpoint than our own. Partly because it causes us to examine what we believe a little deeper. Sometimes it strengthens our resolve, but other times it may cause us to step back and say, “Hmmm… what if I’m the one who’s wrong here?” Or at the very least, it helps us to learn what makes someone tick.
Also, it keeps us connected with other people in the way we should be, not just words on a social media screen. Retreating to our own personal echo chamber may feel good, but it isn’t good, not for us or for a functioning society.
Because it’s not too far a leap from avoiding “those people” to dehumanizing them altogether. And as history has shown time and again, that never leads to anything good.
Chris Sherwood writes from his home in North Chemung. He is the author of the In Times of Trouble and In Times Of Trouble: Aftermath, a post-apocalyptic series set in Upstate New York, and is currently working on the third book in the trilogy. To learn more, go to cmsherwood.com