A lot is changing quickly in the world right now, especially in the West, but one thing is very clear – the more we dehumanise people who have different opinions or perspectives to us, the more we experience the exact thing we may not want.
For example, the UK has just gone through a General Election. In 2016 we had a referendum on Brexit so that we could make the choice of whether we should leave the EU or remain.
The majority voted to leave the EU.
The majority voted to elect The Conservative Party back into power as our Government on 13th December 2019.
Both were very unexpected outcomes by some of the UK (and the world!).
And in the USA when Trump got into power, people were understandably in shock too.
I was in shock when Trump got in, but over the past 3 years my shock has turned to understanding, understanding why he got in, because I have now experienced exactly what Trump voters would have been going through too.
I voted to leave the EU.
I voted for the Conservatives for the first time in my life.
Prior to the referendum vote and this General Election, I would consider myself more left wing, more likely to vote Labour as this was my tribal identity being from the North East of England, but I wanted for many reasons to leave the EU and I voted for the Conservatives because I wanted (and it shouldn’t have had to happen this way) my vote to leave to be upheld. I also did not agree with a lot that the opposition parties stood for.
My preference would have been another party (The Brexit Party) that stood down to support the only other Leave party, the Conservatives.
How Did This Happen?
Because these leaders, with these ideas, made a lot of sense to a lot of people. While people in the USA may shoot down Donald Trump (as I did), they on the other hand lift up the former President Obama as saint like, but upon further research we discover that while Trump openly bears his prejudices publicly, giving people permission to judge and be politically incorrect, Obama did as much if not more ‘bad’ stuff as Trump, he was just not so vocal with it and the nice suit and appearance turned people away from the reality and instead they saw only the mask.
AND more importantly, when people are dehumanised and made to feel like second class citizens, in any country, if there is someone standing up for them, they will follow that person, leader or party, whether we like it or not.
Over the past 3 years since the referendum, while those who wanted to remain in the EU were angry, leave voters saw nothing but the underhanded ways the other parties tried to stop us from leaving the EU, even bringing in The Supreme Court which was not what it was set up for.
We saw the opposition voters consistently reduce Leave (and Conservative) voters down to pieces of crap, racist, xenophobic, stupid, rich, elitist, didn’t know what they were voting for, wanted children to die, want to sell of the NHS (National Health Service), have no hearts, don’t care about the homeless and the most recent one I received personally was we are apparently soul-less.
AND this is why our general election went the way it did.
And this is why Trump got into power.
And this is why Trump will get into power again.
The more we fight, resist, attack ‘the other’ the more steadfast and resolute people become.
Call it rebellion, call it standing up for what they feel matters… call it whatever you want but it’s a fact, this is what happens when you push against a group of people so aggressively.
10 Powerful Reasons to Accept The ‘Other’
- Your opinions are just that. Unless you have a spent a day in another person’s shoes you cannot know why they choose what they do and what their own vision or life experience is. Accepting that ‘the other’ sees the world differently and that it is okay and healthy that they do, will build bridges not war. What you see as wrong, they may see as wrong too, but they vocalise it differently, they may have other priorities, but this does not make them stupid, soul-less or without a heart. It is arrogant to think otherwise and gives an unreal sense of a superiority complex.
- The more you demonise those who oppose your views, the stronger those you oppose become in how they see both you and the subject you are in opposition about. If you want people to understand your perspective… calling them names, demanding they give you reasons why they make the choices they did or do, to your satisfaction, is aggressive not peace-making.
- If you surrender and accept that perhaps there is a need for the ‘other’ or accept that you may not have the full picture on certain subjects and are as biased in your views as the ‘other’ that you demonise, the less likely there will be a backlash and force against them. If there is a group in society who feel dehumanised and this continues, consistently so (as has been the case with Trump supporters/Leave voters) you will not only get those same people voting in the exact same leaders, but you will also get more people voting in those exact same leaders, because they can see how badly their fellow humans are being judged. And often the silent majority is watching the abuse happen without speaking out, so voting is a way they speak out.
- What you resist persists. This is what happens in life. So, if you want change towards a more socialist society for example, try to more deeply understand those who voted the opposite instead of making them wrong, try to understand where they are coming from.
- Not accepting creates further suffering. When we don’t accept ‘what is’ we struggle, it’s painful.
- Acknowledging that there are extremes in opinions from both sides can help us find a common ground. For example it is common to focus on the far right as being bad, wrong, despicable human beings but so often the far left can be as brutal, aggressive and create problems but as the left gives the appearance of rationality or more acceptable aggression it is far less commented on. Extremism is extremism. If a far right person says they want someone to die we rise up against this, but if a far left twenty year old female on a march against a democratic result shouts how she wants the Prime Minister to die horribly (which has happened since our election), that is not criminalised as extremism, but simply freedom of speech. In Hong Kong we saw protestors setting people on fire, but they were labelled protestors not terrorists. We’ve got this all backwards, this new WOKE society is not balanced in how it judges what is happening and this needs to change.
- Accepting ‘the other’ means you accept yourself. If you accept ‘the other’ you give yourself permission to be accepted too. Have you ever been in a room with someone who had the opposite belief to you, and they started shouting how wrong you were? You didn’t feel accepted, you didn’t feel that you had space or room to express your point of view and when someone starts shouting, all rationale goes out the window. We just can’t hear another person when they shout aggressively, we hear the shout, but not the words. When we accept that other person without needing to defend or legitimise our own point of view or feel the need to make that other person wrong, we open up the space for understanding. This is where many people for example on twitter misjudged this whole situation. They believed that they had tried to understand leave voters for example, but what they had actually done was they had tried to force opinions on leave voters and demanded responses from them on why they made choices. This doesn’t bode well for understanding.
- By accepting others, we also say to ourselves ‘My vision and my beliefs are strong enough that I don’t need approval from others’. We can say ‘I respect that you have this opinion and that you voted the way you did. I did not like the outcome, but I honour your right to choose, thank you for honouring mine too’
- By accepting others, we drop our inner barriers and we allow in more loving and compassionate ways of being in this world, for both ourselves and others
- We increase diversity of thinking; we all grow smarter and wiser instead of insular and closed off.
And while both sides of any argument can be abusive, I wanted to write this post to simply highlight why certain outcomes happen when we fight against the ‘other’.
Since our election the abuse continues, directed at Conservative voters for now, but also now those who wanted Brexit are becoming louder because in a way, however bad it may seem, they feel justified to speak out loudly, sometimes aggressively too, after being dehumanised for so long.
When one opposite gets louder so does the other.
So, it may continue for some time, until some of us stop and look to see who that ‘other’ person really is? And ask ‘Is what I am saying true’?
Are they racist? Are they soul-less? Are they a snowflake? Do they want children to die? Do they hate the homeless?
In all rational thinking most of us would realise how ridiculous this sounds and is probably incorrect for most people judged. There will be a small minority who are this way as will there be a small minority of extremism in the opposing party, but that’s the point, its more about opposition that commonality.
So, can you accept my vote in the same way I accept yours?
And know that I don’t have to justify my choices and neither do you.
I invite you to watch the following video, it may offer a new way of looking at those you may see as wrong.