Are You Finding Yourself With Few Allies?
A few days ago something pretty cool happened: Orson Scott Card’s official Twitter liked a Tweet I had posted.
Now, if you know anything about me (and even if you don’t, but take my stage name into consideration) you know that this is a pretty big deal. I was grinning from ear to ear and showed some of my friends. While most thought it was varying levels of cool-to-awesome, there were a few who took an entirely different point of view.
“You know he’s a bigot, right?”
“I hate him – he wants to keep gays from getting married.”
“What’s wrong with you? Are you a homophobe?”
“Dude, Pastwatch SUCKED!”
Now, I’ll admit I wasn’t completely shocked by this. After all, back when the film version of Ender’s Game came out in 2013, my wife posted on her Facebook that we had gone to see it and that I was ecstatic to finally watch one of my favorite books come alive on the Big Screen. Though there was nothing political about what she said in her post, it was immediately met with comments to the likes of “how could you?! I’m boycotting that movie because he hates gays!”
So, it will suffice to say that I’ve been through this before. But, in all honesty, I really didn’t think it would be a high priority on most peoples’ reaction list.
And Pastwatch is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read.
Nonetheless, I don’t want you to think this is about to become a blog about gay rights. It’s not.
I also don’t want you to think that this is going to be a blog about defending Orson Scott Card’s position on gay rights. It’s not. As a matter of fact, I don’t share his view.
This blog is going to be about something else entirely.
I’ve had something on my mind lately, and this particular episode has helped me to frame it a little bit easier.
How often do we define a person by a single characteristic that we don’t like about them? Would you say “pretty much all the time”? Because I would. And that’s not just a conclusion I’m jumping to about you (which I supposed in and of itself proves my point), but it’s one that I’m making about myself as well.
How many people – whether they be politicians, celebrities, customer service reps, coworkers or neighbors – do we simply define by one thing we don’t like about them? How many do we see as bigots? How many do we see as tree-hugging hippies or crazy conservatives? How many do we see as nothing more than that annoying laugh, or that shrill voice?
And why are we so eager to focus on this negative thing about that person, to the point that that’s all they become to us?
Why are we so determined to rule out anything else we could get to know about them? Good and bad?
And why, at the same time, do we readily ignore the bad things in ourselves?
Why are we putting all this energy into making enemies out of everyone else?
I guess maybe we feel we don’t need allies.
Meanwhile, we wonder why we don’t have that many friends; or that big of a support group; or why the people we surround ourselves with have nothing to add to our lives.
I’m not saying you have to like Orson Scott Card’s views on gay marriage. I don’t. I’m also not saying you can’t boycott something (like the Ender’s Game movie) if you feel that passionate about it. I’m not saying you have to like another person’s point of view or that they spend a little too much time with Kim Jong Un.
I am saying – regardless of who it is, what they do, or where they come from – that there’s more to people than that one thing you don’t like. If you took the time to get to know more about that person, you might find yourself with one Hell of an ally. And if nothing else you might learn something about someone else, yourself, or the world you live in – things you’d never really known before.
And, sidebar: the people who will most readily come to your defense; the ones who will lay out in traffic for you; the ones with whom you will have the tightest bond and will love you the most – those aren’t the people who agree with you on every little thing. They’re the people who know your heart and genuinely love you despite some things they may not like or may disagree with you on.
Look around you at the world you live in. There’s so much hate, so much yelling, so many people wanting nothing more than to tear each other down. And so much of that is because of our eagerness to define others by that one thing we don’t like.
Now close your eyes. Imagine we did the opposite. What if we defined people by something we loved about them? All that effort we put into finding something we hate about someone… what if we put it all into finding something we genuinely enjoyed?
Because I’ll tell you, if you made that kind of effort, you’d find it.
What kind of a world would that look like?