Why we will never see eye to eye

My dad always tells me that my biggest fault is that I always think I’m right. I got to thinking about this statement and I’ve decided that of course I think I’m right. Don’t you think you’re right? What kind of person lives life not thinking anything they say or do or believe in is right? Everyone thinks they are right.

But I don’t think that that is what my dad–or some other friends who don’t agree with my point of view–meant. I suppose it’s all in my passionate delivery of beliefs to other people. My persistent insistence that my point of view is the one to lead humanity down the true, righteous path. My feverish pitch like a tel-evangelist, trying desperately to win your soul to the side of the holy, and if you aren’t coming with, then you’re left to the world of the damned.

Well, maybe not quite so bad.

But I do hold strongly to those things I believe in. And I never thought this was a negative quality about myself. I figured if I could, like all Christians are bid to do, set a good example for others, perhaps they would follow me too. I’m slowly realizing that there are just too many differences between those of us on the Left and those of us on the Right for either side to ever reach a compromise. Emotions are too strong (much like my own, though people will deny they feel that strongly about something until you start to get them into a discussion about it).

I thought I could sit quietly on my opinion and try to tame myself for the sake of close friends who are conservative. I thought that we could agree to disagree and just move on with our relations. But it doesn’t work too well because what we believe is so central and core to our beings that it shapes everything about our existences–how we view the world, what we do in our spare time, how we pray and what we pray for (or if we pray at all), and even how we view each other. It’s hard to contain all that stuff. It’s nearly impossible to bite your tongue when you want to speak.

I’m learning that when I’m speaking my mind–again, in that fervor that I have trouble taming–it’s viewed as shoving my point-of-view down the throats of those who do not agree. Which is, ironically, how I’ve always felt about the Right and their opinions. Making laws to outlaw abortion is forcing someone else’s code of morality on me and others. Refusing basic marriage privileges to an entire group of people based on the fact that their biology leads them to love those in their own gender is discrimination of the worst kind–to me, akin to making slaves of blacks or outlawing interracial marriage.

I’ve tried to remove my emotions from my ideas enough to look at these sort of things from the other point of view. To someone on the right, allowing abortion in our nation is like having no law against murders or rapists. To some on the right, those of the evangelical religious persuasion, allowing homosexuals to marry would lead the world one step closer to the city of Sodom which God vanquished. To those of us in the more secular camp, this seems like a ridiculous idea, but there are people who live in real fear of God’s ability to smite down those He has deemed sinful. I’m not trying to mock here, I’m being serious. Those of the less evangelical bend, but still mostly religious, will say that allowing homosexuals to marry “just isn’t right” and cite quotations from the Bible–Old and New Testament–where it has been stated that homosexuality is an abomination.

The explanations go deeper still than what I’m able to convey here. I have a lot of trouble digging deeper with people on these topics because for me they are so hot button. If I care about someone, I’m sincerely afraid to hear totally what their point of view is on these issues because I’m afraid it will make me hate them. Well, not hate. Maybe more like, I will think less of them because people who do not back these things I hold so dear, that I feel justified in believing on the most humanistic of levels, I feel, on some level, are just not compassionate. And that’s just not something you want to think about another friend.

I’ve honestly tried to see the other side. But in the end, I find myself trying desperately to sway those on the other side to my point of view. I’ll even try to provide examples of people in their camp who might agree with my thinking. For example, I’ll try to persuade a Christian friend that gay marriage can be validated by Christian ideas, introducing some author or minister or someone important within the faith who takes this stance. I think I’m being clever and finding a way to speak the language of the other camp. However, in the end, the person I’m trying to persuade will simply invalidate the other person’s opinion with some sort of dig that my liberal Christian representative is not a follower of the truth faith. Or the person I’m trying to persuade will just insist that he/she does not agree with my liberal example.

So, I don’t know. I’m kind of left with a feeling of hopelessness about the whole situation of Right v. Left. I think it will always be Right versus Left because the two sides will never change their mind. We are who we are. I’m not even sure how it happened. I was raised in a pretty middle-of-the-road household. I was even raised Christian (Catholic). Somewhere along the line, I chose for myself to not be Christian or Catholic–I just wasn’t getting it at all–and I chose to be a crazy hippy liberal. It’s what made sense to me. It was not necessarily how I was raised, though my mother, it turns out, is also quite liberal but somewhere to the right of what I am.

I am not sure we can even ever compromise. We will just argue ourselves into a stalemate. And both sides will continue slurring the other under their breath. Because even though we try to see things from the other point-of-view, a part of us feels the other side is something less than human. Like how I can’t get passed anyone who is against gay marriage because I feel like a person of this nature enjoys marginalizing other people. I really don’t know how a person justifies denying marriage to a whole third of our population. Maybe it’s money, maybe Biblical, maybe hatred. I don’t know. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t look past this sort of thing in a person. To me, marginalizing a population of human beings this way means you have a cruel heart underneath what I see. Even though I know this can’t be true.

It’s a never-ending cycle. We will lose breath trying to change each other. No one changes their opinion. Not this late in the game of life. It’s just very frustrating.

I’m starting to take the world view that I should just let the chips fall where they may. It doesn’t matter what I say or think, the world will just push on as it does. I can vote, run down the road screaming in protest, but it’s not going to do a single thing to change the tide of life. So maybe I should just hang around with people who agree with me and forget the Right exists. Maybe that’s what we all gotta do–just find like-minded friends and shut ourselves off from everyone else. That’s pretty much what we do anyway.

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6 thoughts on “Why we will never see eye to eye

  1. I have to remind myself that while I'm so vigorously fighting for a cause, the other side feels just as passionate against it for reasons just as personal as I do, even though I think my way is the more enlightened way. (They probably think their way is the more enlightened way, the only way to a better humanity, as I think on some subjects.)

    Also, I've realized that we really can't look at things objectively. We can say that we make up our own minds about things–not listening to the pundits and talking heads–but at the end of the day, whenever we look at anything–whether it be a new health care bill or a proposal to allow gay marriage–we look at it with the bias of our own feelings. We've made up our minds about stuff long ago and NOTHING is going to change it. So people who are against a universal health care plan are always going to be against a universal health care plan, no matter how great it seems to be for both sides. Ultimately, there's no way to make that group happy because they are against it. Same with gay marriage. There's whole groups who won't even give on using the term "domestic partnership" or "civil union." They don't want the homosexual having any rights like marriage whatsoever, no matter what you call it. It depresses the piss out of me.

  2. (I got an email from Equality Ohio yesterday about a Cinci group trying to take to court Cleveland for allowing the domestic registery, stating that it was against that awful state law we put on the constitution in 2004. So I guess that's what got me going again on the gay rights thing. Even though Equality Ohio says that it's been ruled for the domestic registery since the registry grants same sex couples no rights whatsoever like marriage…)

  3. I like that there is variety in this world. I can't imagine a world where we all have the same opinion. And people's separate opinions don't prevent me from having a relationship with them. My sister is a republican who I love very much. My mother is against gay marriage and I'm not throwing her out with the bath water. I'm a gay liberal who doesn't happen to agree with some of your views yet that doesn't keep me from reading your blog. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that we all learn to get along. It's the 1st tenet of the Bible and every other religious text and yet so hard for us to accomplish.

  4. Yes. But it's very hard to have a relationship–a close relationship or a romantic one–with someone whose views are so fundamentally different than your own. I can get along fine hanging out in a room with a bunch of conservatives so long as we arent talking politics. I just get too mad. Maybe I just suck at debating. But it's just very sad when someone you care about a lot has such opposing viewpoints. I'm talking romantically. I'd feel like I was betraying something if I married a man who did not believe in gay marriage… (ie, what gives me the right to use my heterosexually to marry someone when a whole segment of our own population is marginalized, unable to have the same rights?).

    Maybe I'm just too damned serious about everything.

  5. Heidi,
    I think you and your opinions are important.

    Change in society happens very slowly…but when people do not relent, change happens.

    The woman's movement is an example of change that I have seen in my lifetime. When I was first employed, women held positions of support for men…did a lot of the work, while some men were able to take the credit and the pay and the perks.

    Your grandmother's family was an anomaly in the 1940-50's with 4 women college graduates (my mother did not complete her degree until the 60's)…but they were all teachers. Their brother was a doctor. If the women did not go into teaching, they would have chosen nursing: not MD.

    Things have changed greatly since then.

    The same goes for people from different backgrounds: blacks, hispanics, Irish, Polish, gays…and on and on. They all have opportunities now that their grandparents were denied.

    When people protest: change happens…the Vietnam war, for example.

    There are protests that may be doomed to failure: antiabortion protests may be one of these. The type of people pictured protesting may not represent the majority. But they have a right to peaceful protest.

    I know that in your personal relationships, compatability is important, and arguing differences are not always productive…it is best to accentuate areas of agreement. Persuasion takes time, if it ever occurs. I guess as long as people are open to discussion and respect each other, a friendship does not need to be disgarded over a philosophical stance.
    MOM-not really anonymous

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