The “Better Angels”

We may disagree. In fact, I may vehemently disagree with your perspective on life and politics and, yes, even the candidate you support. In the same way that I feel obligated to occasionally share things I find important or interesting or relevant, I understand that people I disagree with will, too. If I am “entitled” to do this, so are they. And who knows? I may learn something!

That said, I always do my very best to argue my points or post things to social media that represent my perspective in a respectful way. I do my absolute best to avoid even the hint of personal attacks against those who disagree with me. I try to at least consider the other person’s perspective. Even if I don’t understand it, I don’t resort to name-calling and insults.

Also, I do my best to fact check things before I post. I use judgment. And while I admittedly have more training and more of a mindset to do this than the average person, I expect everyone — especially the 100% convinced-their-way-is-the-only-way folks — to at least take ten seconds to Google or look it up on Snopes. Now, have I always done these things? Likely not. I am, after all, human.

But over the last few weeks, I have consistently read that I am “evil” for being a Democrat. I have read that I am “un-American” or unpatriotic. I have consistently read and seen things shared that are so untrue, even spin can’t make them remotely true. In fact, I’m beginning to think it’s easier for me to identify as gay in some circles than to identify as a Democrat or as someone who appreciates facts over (or even as much as) feelings.

Why is that? My best guess is that someone has humanized the ” gay issue” for these people. They understand there is an actual human being involved.

So, how about this? I am a person. I have a heart and a brain and am worthy of respect. So are you.

Next time you decide to post about how evil or anti-America or anti-freedom or lazy or weak or insert-insult-here liberals or Democrats are, stop and think. You don’t want people saying insulting things about you, right? You don’t want people generalizing about you, right? Maybe reconsider your point or wording. Also ask yourself this: “If I were sitting in a coffee shop, face-to-face with this person, would I articulate my point or make this statement in the same way?” If the answer is “no,” maybe reconsider. These are the things I do for you, people I disagree with. I don’t automatically assume you’re any of these things based on mass generalizations and I certainly don’t post that you are. Life is full of nuances. So are we.

You can make a point or share your perspective without being insulting or making sweeping negative generalizations about other Americans. You don’t have to call people names. People simply disagreeing with you or having another outlook on life and how America should operate aren’t automatically stupid or evil or unpatriotic or anything else. Making generalizations and being disrespectful or downright hateful are generally bad ideas, regardless of your political party.

If you want to respectfully disagree with me, fine. If you want to post things that you think support your argument or perspective, by all means do so. If you want to engage in a meaningful dialogue about something, awesome. But don’t call me names. Don’t insult me. And please don’t just blindly share stuff and then draw hurtful, stereotypical conclusions based on things that are entirely false or misconstrued.

As I thought through this post, I was reminded of President Lincoln’s words during his first inaugural address:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

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