Imagine if you were are a long-time, hardcore liberal, and you decided to switch to conservative.
Or, think about if you were a conservative all your life, and made the decision to become a liberal.
What would you have to do? What mental adjustments would you have to make to complete the transformation?
If you were a liberal, and you wanted to be conservative, there would be some heavy lifting.
First, you’d have to get angry. Very angry. All the time. About everything. You’d have to really start listening to every word anyone said to you and watching for anything that may be even remotely construed as offensive.
You’d have to be constantly on the lookout for language that is unacceptable and should no longer be spoken. You’d have to empathize with every aggrieved group of people who weren’t present to be offended themselves, so you could be offended for them.
You’d have to be ever-vigilant in seeking out injustice. Especially from white people. Especially from white males. You’d have to be suspicious of every white male you encounter. Between all the mansplaining, manspreading, and interrupting, you’d have to track every transgression.
Fortunately, you’d be able to safely assume that everyone you spoke to was also liberal and agreed with you, so you could whine and complain and be outraged, secure in the knowledge that everyone speaking with you was in full agreement. Because, as a liberal, you’d always be arrogantly assuming that everyone agreed with you.
It would also be refreshing to embrace a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to life. You could tell everyone you see exactly how they should be living their life and doing what they do without any regard for whatever you want to do.
You’d never have to think, because you could take it to the bank that everything you heard in the news was 100% accurate with no bias. If a friend told you something horrible a Republican was doing, you could take it to the bank that it was true and that your friend knew exactly why that evil Republican did it.
The best part about this transformation would be that, as a liberal, you’d now have the ability to read minds. You wouldn’t be limited to assessing the actions of politicians and the people you read about in the news. You’d know exactly what was in their hearts and minds and know exactly what they were thinking when they did or said whatever it was that pissed you off.
It would be an equally significant transformation to move from liberal to conservative.
First, you’d have to loosen up… a lot. To do this, you’d have to develop a sense of faith and belief in people. You’d have to start giving people the benefit of the doubt that they’re not horrible people who are trying to oppress everyone not like them.
When you hear jokes that appear to be at someone else’s expense, you’d have to consider the possibility that the person making the joke is someone who can laugh at themselves and means no harm when making fun of another.
When people do things or say things you don’t understand or agree with, you’d have to stop and consider that every situation is unique and you do not understand all of the dynamics involved because you’re not in it. You’d have to understand that the decisions made may have been the best possible decisions available, under the circumstances as the person involved knew them.
You’d have to understand and believe there’s a higher power, or at least that life is bigger than you. There would be some adjustment as you left it up to the good will of the people to make sure their brothers and sisters are getting the attention they need.
At the same time, you’d have to be willing to let people touch the proverbial hot stove and learn lessons the hard way. You’d come to realize that fighting everyone else’s battles, especially when they don’t want you to, or worse, when there really isn’t a battle to fight, just gets you angry and leaves them as helpless and incapable as they were before you started.
When you heard something on the news or from a friend, you’d do your own research and check out what both sides of the story are saying before you’d render your own judgment. You’d seek to understand why the people involved did what they did. But you’d never take someone’s take on a story on it’s face. You’d seek to understand and render your own verdict.
Perhaps the best move, when adopting conservatism, would be the laughter. You’d finally be able to laugh at and enjoy life. You’d realize that even the negative events in life yield positive results. Life is a journey, and as you experience the ups and downs, you grow and learn. You’d finally understand that when something negative happens to someone, they learn and good things usually follow.
Challenge is not permanent. People overcome challenges and achieve, as a result. If they fail, they learn and grow. And if there’s injustice, people will rally around and do what they can to make sure it’s made right.
Perhaps the best part of the transformation would be simply seeing everyone as a person. You wouldn’t see gender, race, religion, height, weight, or anything else. You’d accept everyone as they were and judge them for what they said and did. There’d be no jumping to conclusions based on the cover of the proverbial book.
And if you did want to challenge or question them, you’d embrace the mental challenge of sparring with them. Sometimes, you’d find out you were right. Other times, you’d find out you were wrong. In either case, you’d learn.
At present, we’re certainly a country that is pretty heated and divided. I think if everyone went through the mental exercise of what it would take to embrace “the other side’s” ideology, we may find more common ground.
And we’d probably end up with far more conservatives who understood that they were finally home.