I don’t even know where to begin tonight, as so much of this is ready to just burst out of me like a Ridley Scott alien. This year has been a significant turning point in my life, as it has been the first time I decided to become emotionally and intellectually invested in an election process, at least beyond what appears to be the investment that an average American has made in the past (this includes me). This statement is not meant to disparage the average American voter, as most of us only have so much time and patience to commit to the turmoil of the election process, where it sincerely feels like our voice is never heard anyway. To be honest, I was previously of the mentality that has most likely plagued a great deal of the millennial generation: that our opinion and our vote doesn’t matter, since the country is run by the privileged elite anyway. I am a bit ashamed of my apathy regarding my responsibility, and I now hold to the fact that regardless of how biting and vindictive the current political climate may be, at least it seems like people of all ages are making the sincere effort to be active and informed.
Getting back to my underlying point, though; regardless of which candidate you are supporting, the most frustrating point of this season, and of living in a culture of free speech in general, is the incessant need to be RIGHT, which inevitably comes at the expense of others being WRONG. Of course free speech is a human right and should not be restrained or subdued by any outside force; but what about restraining it within ourselves? Not because of any outward oppression or judgment, but because maybe, just maybe, we don’t always need to be right.
I will use myself as an example, as I try my best to be a representative of this ideal. As I’ve related before and is apparent in my About page, I am a 30 year old Christian white male, the supposed epitome of privilege and source of oppression to so many. I cannot help but sadly shake my head at this notion, not because I dismiss any concerns, but simply because you do not know me, just as much as I do not know you. You don’t know that I’ve endured traumatic hardship, that I’ve been abused and tormented by an unfaithful, drug-addicted spouse, or lived in filth due to lack of any other option. You don’t know that I’ve been through bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills that I could not pay, or endured multiple surgeries due to chronic medical issues that brought on those bills in the first place. You don’t know that I am still buried in student loan debt, from just trying to make make something better of my life. Unless you knew me personally, how could you know any of that until just now? And yet some would say that I am an oppressor? The only thing that I have oppressed, or rather suppressed, is crippling depression when enduring these realities, just enough to keep pushing forward and, with hard work and the Lord’s help, dig myself out of them. This type of argument is faulty due to the simple fact that it fails to account for any individual. No one race or gender or political persuasion is a representative of all its constituents. So many people struggle so fiercely to be recognized for their uniqueness, and yet utterly fail to do so in return to their audience.
I need to stay on topic here, because I really am striving to refrain from singling out any particular group or ideal in this discussion. This is because THERE IS NO ONE PERPETRATOR. I only want to get across the point that you aren’t always going to be right. Your beloved politician may fail you, your enamored movement may falter in representing you, even your religion may not always have the perfect fit you so desire. IT. IS. INEVITABLE. We live in an imperfect world filled with incredibly imperfect people, and you are one of them. You are a single life in the midst of billions currently, trillions past, and untold numbers yet to come. While I applaud your desire to make a difference, please remember that you are not omnipotent or infallible. If you believe in God, then there is only one omnipotent and infallible Being. If you don’t, there there are literally none. Regardless, you are not among that severe minority.
So, instead of beating our heads against the wall, or as in many cases, trying to beat someone else’s head against the wall, maybe if we just shut our mouths and open up our eyes, ears, and hearts, we could learn how to truly coexist more peacefully. SO MUCH pain has been caused by the straightforward fact that some individual or group believed they must enforce their beliefs or ideologies on others. Put whatever label on it that you want: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Athiest, Feminist, Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Gay, Straight, I could be here all night citing labels… they are all guilty in some way of trying to enforce their standards on everyone else. Maybe if we all took the time to understand and embrace the true beauty of freedom, we would realize that the core tenet of that liberty is letting others have the same, and living by a standard we can all abide by: treat others as you would have them treat you.