I just saw an interesting exchange on a friend's Facebook post. This friend is a committed and self-described political liberal. He had posted a nice comment about buying lemonade from a child's lemonade stand. Several people then asked him if he'd seen the map going around the internet that shows all the places were government officials have shut down lemonade stands run by children.
His response intrigued me. He said that as a liberal he should be especially against this sort of overzealous regulation and nanny-ism. His reason was that excessive examples like this interfered with good regulations and injured a cause he believed in--at least in part because of the ammunition it gave extremists on the other side. (I'm paraphrasing, but think I am doing so fairly).
I admired my friend's intellectual honesty and courage. Instead of coming up with an instinctive, gut-based defense of those on his side who had gone too far, he said, "Yeah. That's ridiculous." I respect him for that and (for what it's worth) am far more likely to listen to his opinions and thoughts about future issues.
Coincidentally, I've been thinking a lot about consistency lately and trying to make sure I act according to a consistent set of values in all the different spheres of my life.
This made me do some thinking and suggested a "What if?" to my mind. What if all of us turned around and objected to extremists on our own side--those of our compatriots who went to0 far for a little while and stopped lobbing grenades at the other side? It occurred to me that this could be a very powerful way to change civil discourse for the better--in addition to significantly improving things and making beneficial changes.
So, here's the homework I'm assigning myself: next time someone on "my team" (whichever of my teams it may be) says or does something wrong or stupid, I'm going to acknowledge it and call them out on it. (Maybe on this very blog!!! Stay tuned....) I'm going to work to define wrong and right consistently by what I believe and not by the tribal affiliation of the person.
Want to join me? This could be fun.
Extra-credit: Name three ways that your political party is flawed. Be honest. And you can't cheat by saying positive things thinly disguised as bad things like, "Well, we just care so much about [insert some universally good thing here] that we sometimes get overzealous." You can do this honestly in your own mind.
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