I made a mistake today. I posted something overtly political in my Facebook feed where I thought I was bringing to light some American hypocrisy with regard to foreign policy. It was a short post and I believe everything I wrote to be true and fairly indisputable but apparently I was wrong. When it comes to politics, there’s almost nothing that is obvious and indisputable.
What I’d asserted was challenged by an old American pal and while I started in with Google and Wiki to back up my assertions, I thought, what’s the point? No one ever changes anybody’s mind. I’ve never changed anyone’s mind about a political issue and no one has ever changed my mind about a political issue. We change our own minds when it suits us. And the only thing that ever changes our minds is when something changes our lives.
I grew up in a fairly insulated and homogeneous environment. It was a racist and homophobic world we lived in. Not because there was evil in our hearts but because we didn’t know any better. Those who often feel the most superior often feel that way because they are the most ignorant. I can’t say that I ever felt particularly superior but in retrospect, I certainly was ignorant.
Having worked for thirty years with gay people and Muslims and people from all over the world, I can attest that great people and assholes come in all sorts of different packages. But until I was exposed to this more varied environment, I may well have held onto some of the misguided attitudes of my youth.
My grandfather was in the trenches of WWI. In the late thirties when he heard his young sons express interest in joining up for the Second World War, he discouraged them, if not explicitly forbidding them that course of action. As a civil servant, when he’d heard rumours of coming conscription, he told his oldest sons it was time to sign up. His politics changed when it affected those gathered around his dinner table. That’s how it always works.
Whether you believe Omar Kadhr should still be in prison or think he was a victim, I can’t change your mind in a hundred words. Whether you think trans people need a safe bathroom or not, nothing I say will ever change your mind. Hell, I have a dear friend who still says the word retarded when she means silly. I’ve tried to get her to stop for five years. She still says it. Change comes from within. And we’ll never see everything or even anything the same way.
So if you see me post something political, realize that it was a mistake and I couldn’t help myself. I’ll try to keep it to stories and songs and I’ll enjoy the pictures of your kids and your dogs and your meals.
Live and let live. And above all, peace.