The other day, I posted a quote from Thomas Jefferson in an effort to explain my opposition to what I (and a lot of others) consider overly intrusive tactics by the TSA.
Dudley left me a good-natured comment in which he accused me of “drinking the tea” (I know this wasn’t a jab because I know Dudley, and I know he loves me and he wouldn’t poke me like that in a mean spirit). The underlying premise of his comment (at least, as I understand it) – that it is surprising that I, the lefty liberal, why-can’t-we-all-get-along Chili would have anything in common with people who identify as NOT those things – got me thinking.
A few days later, Success Warrior wrote a pretty in-depth post about the TSA topic (it’s what we’re all talking about, after all). I left him a comment on his site asking for a conversation about why some people were surprised that I would object to what’s going on in some airports. His response was that he was not at all surprised, that he didn’t see it as a contradiction at all to how I have represented myself, my values, and my ethics, and that, in fact, he would have been surprised had I NOT been upset.
That led to a conversation about the limiting effects of labels and boxes. While I understand that it is a human thing to label – we need to understand who we are by understanding who we are not – I contend, as I have loudly and in public many times before, that all the labeling has gotten way out of hand. I am certain, just as sure as I’m breathing in and out, that there are a number of people who not only WERE surprised by my protest post, but who probably also gave themselves pause to doubt my sincerity. I mean, really; how could Chili possibly have a conservative thought in her head?
Success Warrior made the very valid point that, as soon as some people decide who you are, they don’t bother really listening to you anymore; “they box you,” he said, “then dismiss your answers because they don’t like that box or anything that comes from it.” Then, he said, “sometimes it seems they try to disagree even with common sense out of fear that someone might throw THEM in YOUR box.”
Really, this is what happens. I have watched people do this to others, and I have seen it done to me. I have had people actually come right out and ask me how I can continue to call people who hold different ideologies than I hold “friends.”
You want to know how I do it? I think about the PERSON first. I’m interested in the human being, not the politics. There is nothing about the way we’ve been filing each other that promotes any thinking at all, nothing that fosters any kind of productive or ethical communication, and nothing that honors our common humanity, and I wish that people would just back off of it. If we could figure out, even just a little, how to start seeing each other again – and how to really listen – I’m pretty sure that we’d find we’re a lot more alike than we are different.