Ask Auntie Pinko
August 11, 2005
By Auntie Pinko
My name is John, and I'm a corporal in the USMC. I am currently
serving nine months at Ali-Al-Salem, Kuwait and have two months
left. My main mission is to efficiently deploy marines and sailors
to Iraq, and to efficiently send the ones returning home back to
the states. We also deal with emergency leaves, cargo for Iraq,
and sometimes civilians getting to different places in the AOE.
It's a really easy job, and we don't get attacked or anything, so
it's no big deal.
I'm a Republican. I vote conservatively, all the time. I'm
more conservative than mainstream Republicans, but not as extreme
as the libertarians. I am very politically active.
I live in Davis, CA... which is home to UC Davis. I am an Electrical
Engineer major there, and am a Junior at the moment... it's on hold
until I get home though. While there, I enlist in the College Republicans.
I help out in all their events, but I don't do screaming. I just
video tape the events, because to be honest, every time I don't
one of our members gets arrested or charged. I decided that's it's
BS, and just tape events.
I get approached by A LOT of liberals. They call me a warmonger,
baby killer, and a lot of different names. When I argue with them,
I can't get sense out of them. I get some sympathetic liberals to
discuss ideas with me a lot, but it always degenerates to one of
us being wrong.
After a long time, I'm starting to realize that maybe both
sides aren't wrong... how can two people come to totally different
conclusions with different rationales and both be right? It doesn't
make sense to me.
So here's the point. I love your writing. You're the only person
I know of that helps me understand how liberals get their ideas,
where they come from, and what rationale they have. I read every
one of your articles, and it helps me present my case to other liberals,
so they understand where I'm coming from.
My question is, Auntie Pinko, what is the best way to try to
calm down a screaming liberal, and help to present your side so
that they can make a rational decision on whether I'm just another
idiot, or a person that has put a lot of thought into his beliefs?
Thanks for your time, and please keep up the good work.
Ali Al-Salem, Kuwait
Thank you for the kind words! Flattery will get you - well, not
anywhere, but certainly a long way. And thank you also for
your commitment as a Marine, to serving our country and your fellow-citizens.
However (comparatively) easy your current mission may be, you have
made that commitment and it's an important contribution.
Now, how do you calm down a screaming liberal? Well, Auntie hasn't
had much luck calming down screaming conservatives, so I don't know
how helpful I can really be. When passion overcomes both good manners
and common sense (because, after all, common sense will tell anyone
that screaming at a person is an awfully unlikely way to get them
to change their mind) there isn't much anyone can do except apologize
for upsetting someone, and move on. Not only are neither of you
going to change the other's mind, but you're most unlikely to learn
anything that will increase your understanding of one another.
I would make one suggestion to you, John, and to my liberal friends
as well. I hear a good deal about how sick, how outraged, how appalling
liberals find conservative ideals, and vice versa. If you find liberal
ideals sickening, or conservative ideals sickening, it's probably
a good indication that you don't yet have a very good understanding
of those ideals. Auntie disagrees with some conservative ideals,
but they don't make me sick. There is a considerable difference
between the substance underlying the basic viewpoints of liberalism
and conservatism, and the manifestations and attributions of people
who align themselves with particular partisan goals.
It is the social and political ideals expressed by some of these
people - conservative and liberal - that distress me, for a number
of reasons. This is mainly true of individuals who are utterly certain
that they are correct - even when I agree with them. The problem
with that kind of utter certainty is that when you know you
are absolutely right, it is often too easy to decide that you don't
need to know any more than you already know. It leads you to ignore,
rationalize, or deny experiences and information that is contrary
to what you "know."
Like most people, I am pretty sure that the political opinions
I hold are reasonable, based on quality information and experience.
Many of them are the direct outgrowth of my Christian beliefs and
convictions. But I was sure of the very same thing thirty years
ago. And yet, looking back on those opinions I am aware of how much
has changed and how differently I might have looked at things then
if I knew all that I know now. I can tell others about my experiences
and the conclusions they have evoked, but how relevant are my
experiences to you? It's not very persuasive, no matter how
eloquent I might be.
How can we effectively influence others, then, if screaming at
them or even talking reasonably to them won't do the trick? I certainly
haven't been effectively influenced by people talking at me - especially
strangers, or people I don't know well. So how have I been influenced?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, an action is worth a million.
The people who have influenced me are people whose actions show
them to be the kind of person I want to be. They live the values
I hold, and their actions and words are consistent with those values.
I value what Jesus said about "When you did these things for the
least among you, you did them for me." When I see people whose lives
reflect a commitment to easing human misery, protecting the vulnerable,
exalting the spark of Divine fire within each human soul, valuing
the individuality and the gloriously infinite variety of my fellow-creatures,
those are the ones I listen to. Those are the ones
I learn from.
While I don't necessarily want to understand what makes every
person who voted for Mr. Bush tick, or what they believe or why
(any more than I want to know those things about everyone who voted
for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore), I will often ask questions and listen
with real interest to those whose actions have shown me that they
value the things I value. Even after listening, I may not agree
with them, but sometimes I do feel that I understand them better,
and that may help us establish some common ground. Then perhaps
I can reciprocate. It won't make us sit around the campfire and
sing "Kum-ba-yah", but it might help us put aside some of
our differences, establish some common ground, and accomplish
some small useful progress toward a more livable world.
I hope this is helpful, John, and thanks for asking Auntie Pinko!
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