"Horrible people"

A reader was kind enough to engage me in conversation. I love when that happens, and I'm super grateful. Here's the conversation. I'm not revealing the name of the other person, just wanted to share the content.

This was in response to my blog post What if everything that's wrong with politics is wrong with all of us?

He writes:

Why is there a problem with "all" of us ? 

This notion seems awfully politically correct to me. There's a problem with racists and nazis. 

I mean, sure if you're speaking about all of us having sort of some problem, for ex in relationships or let's say eating disorders etc then yes sure, we all have problems.

But I don't think that's what you're trying to say.

It just bugs me when people try to over spiritualize everything. Racists are fucking horrible people. Republicans are 80% sociopaths

It's that simple for me

But maybe I have a problem

My response:

Look at it this way: They would say similar things about you. That you're horrible or a sociopath or something like that.

Where does that lead us?

Who's right? Well, you, of course, you'd say. And they'd say they're right. Great. Now what?

Where do you think nazis and racists go when they're told they're horrible people? Do you think they go back home, realize the errors of their ways, and come back out as reformed people? Or do they vanish into thin air? Ah, problem solved! No. They get even more entrenched, that's what.

They're not horrible people. They're hurting people. They're hurt people. They need love. They need healing. Calling them horrible and saying they're wrong just makes piles more hurt on top of the pain they already feel. It makes the divide bigger. It makes them more angry. It solves nothing.

It's not about spirituality. It's just about reality.

He responds:

They need education most of all. And their parents needed education. Most of them have had zero education. Love and healing has a lot to do with education and having resources.
But I mean if you want to go over there and give them hugs I support you. I do think it's a bit naive and idealistic. Their belief system is deeply entrenched. I've read all of the Dalai Lama books and what you're saying sounds a bit like him (I'm a big fan) but if these people are not "horrible" then who is ? You think Hitler for ex was not horrible?
Anyways I get your point now but didn't understand your delivery.

My reply:

So here's this, say, 27-year old racist nazi. What kind of education would you say he needs? Math? Geology? Literature?

What, specifically? And how is he going to get it, if he's no longer in school? Forced anger management training?

Just trying to understand your thinking here.

Their belief system is entrenched, you say. What do you think keeps it that way, and what might cause the entrenchment to loosen up a bit?

I don't know exactly what "horrible" means in this context, and I don't see how applying the label helps anything, but I'd love to be enlightened.

All I'm after is being with reality as it is.

Final response:

All very good points! Can't disagree xx

I wish he'd gone further. I truly want to understand what the thinking is. What kind of education? How would it be delivered? How would it help the situation?

A lot of people think that the only way people could possibly disagree with them is if the other person's stupid. I don't think that's a helpful assumption.

First, I think the "other side" has a lot to teach you, no matter which side you're on. Doesn't mean they're right, or that you have to adopt their viewpoints, but you could still learn something. 

Second, even if they're completely misguided, it's still super valuable to learn just how they're misguided. What's their thinking and belief system, what's the linchpin that holds it together? These are super interesting things to understand, if you care about politics, but also just if you care about people and the world in general. Heck, even if all you care about is yourself, it's interesting to see how other minds work.

Don't hold off on engaging me. I want to learn from you. I really do.

I have my beliefs, sure, but I try not to hold on to any of them too tightly. I've found myself changing beliefs too many times in my life to believe that any of my beliefs are necessarily the truth.

Thank god for being wrong! It's the only way we learn!

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