I was recently asked what I thought the biggest problem in America’s society is, and also what the solution is. I think that there are many things we can point to, like maybe distractions from the real world, and getting caught up in things that aren’t important. But the overarching problem is sin. Now, this is a very broad answer so I made my answer very specific.
I think our cultures biggest problem is in general, it seems that people so aren’t open to opposing views. It could be political, religious, ethical, philosophical, etc. I feel like so many people are too closed-minded and that once they have their minds set on what they think is right and what they want to believe, they won’t even allow themselves to hear opposing viewpoints, let alone open the possibility of changing their minds. I think being closed-minded is far more damaging than if we all agreed on most everything but never shared our thoughts and ideas. We need people to have conversations with each other where they debate and discuss things they disagree with.
People don’t even have to want to change their minds or stance on something. For me personally, there are certain things that no one would ever change my mind on. For example, you can’t change my mind that Jesus walked on this earth and lived a perfect life and then died for my sins as well as the sins of everyone else. You can’t change my mind that God is real and always has been, and always will be. You can’t change my mind that abortion is murder and destroys an innocent human life regardless of the circumstances. Those are just a few examples but my point being that even though you may not be open to changing your mind, it’s still a good thing to have open conversations with people who hold opposing views. I’ll explain more of that later.
I love politics and interacting in that sphere but what I see so often, and it’s happened to me countless times is that whenever there are people who disagree on something, no matter what it is, almost every time one person feels the need to call the other person a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, an idiot or moron, and all kinds of other nasty names just because they don’t hold the same views. This is not how discourse in meant to take place. It’s perfectly fine for people to have disagreements, in fact, I think disagreeing is a good thing. It’s part of what makes us human. But people need to open their minds and learn to debate and disagree with others in a more civil manner.
One of the more recent examples of this is Kanye West. If you’re not aware, Kanye began tweeting out some pro-conservative/pro-Trump things on Twitter towards the end of April 2018. The reactions by people on the left and people on the right were drastically different, in fact, they were opposite. People on the right seemed to embrace what Kanye was doing, it’s likely that they were happy to finally have a Hollywood star on “our side” even though technically, Kanye isn’t really on the right or left, per say. He just wants to start thinking for himself and not being a part of the groupthink where if you’re famous, you have to be on the left otherwise, you’re an outcast. This is exactly what happened. People on the left reacted exactly the opposite as people on the right did. They began viciously attacking Kanye for doing so little as having free thought. For example, Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat from California said that Kanye “talks out of turn” and “sometimes needs some assistance in helping him to form some of his thoughts.” Let me remind you that Maxine Water has been in Congress since 1990 and 4 times she has been honored with the title of “Most Corrupt Member of Congress,” these years being 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2011. This is also a woman who literally serves no other purpose in Congress other than shouting “impeach 45,” referring to President Trump, on the grounds that she hates him. This is exactly what is wrong with our country. Had Kanye been on the left and said something nasty about Trump, all the Democrats would be praising him, and suggesting that he needs help in formulating his thoughts would instantly label you as a racist. But since he said some nice things about Trump and some other conservative things, it’s perfectly fine for the left to attack him and suggest that he needs help. This is one of the biggest problems with the left. They play this game called identity politics, and it’s a really nasty and gross game. Basically, the idea of identity politics says that if you’re of a certain race, skin color, ethnicity, gender, etc., you have to identify with a certain political party. Minority groups such as blacks have to be Democrats. Otherwise, they’re labeled as “not real black people.” This is exactly what happened to Kanye West. People told him to shut up and that he wasn’t even a real black person because he did a tremendous evil in breaking away from the groupthink of the Democratic party. Which is really funny, because when Laura Ingraham of Fox News told LeBron James to “shut up and dribble” after LeBron commented on politics, she was instantly labeled as a racist by folks on the left. But then it’s perfectly fine for people on the left to tell Kanye to basically “shut up and rap” and call him nasty names because of some of the things he tweeted. I don’t see a double standard, do you?
Now, I’m one of those people who could care less about what celebrities have to say about politics. I rip celebrities who are on the left when they do the same thing so I was not one of those people on the right praising Kanye to the skies and saying he should run for president someday. That’s ridiculous. Just because he tweeted out some mildly conservative things doesn’t automatically qualify him to run for any kind of office. But I will say this. While I’m not out there praising Kanye, I think what he did was really important. While it obviously upset a lot of people, it also did some good. After Twitter had a heyday reacting to Kanye’s tweets (trust me, it was AMAZING) and also a tweet from Chance the Rapper that read, “Black people don’t have to be Democrats,” something happened in the black community. According to USA Today, President Trump’s approval rating among black men jumped from 11% to 22% within a week, and his approval rating among the entire black community jumped from 8.9% to 16.5%. While it’s unclear as to whether what Kanye did actually affect Trump’s approval rating among blacks, I personally believe it did. This tweet from Kanye, in particular, was very good. “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” There are so many amazing things about this I don’t know where to start. First off, what in the world is dragon energy? I have no idea but it sounds awesome. And to think that Kanye and Trump are both that is a pretty cool thing. But seriously, that last half of this tweet is the really important part. He says “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” That is exactly the kind of mindset we need in America. Nobody agrees with everything everyone else does, and that’s perfectly fine! We need a society where everyone can have free and independent thought and not be criticized for thinking freely. Sure, there are some really crazy beliefs out there that people have, but they have every right to have those beliefs and share those beliefs with others. That kind of freedom is what makes America the greatest country in the history of the world.
Now, why did I take so much time breaking down that whole thing on Kanye West? Here’s why. I believe that were are in the midst of a cultural civil war, right here in America. There are people on one side who are pro-First Amendment and want dialogue no matter how stupid or crazy other people are. I fall into this category. I don’t care how wild or nonsensical your thoughts or speech is, you have every right to exercise that and I’ll fight for you to keep that right. But then there are people on the other side of the aisle who live in an echo chamber and all they want to hear are the same ideas over and over again, but only things that they agree with. Instead of fighting to keep everyone’s right to free speech, they do just the opposite. They fight to shut down everyone who disagrees with them and call them terrible people.
One of the most clear-cut examples of this happening is in the time after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida took place. There’s no denying that this was a tragic event as many students lost their lives because a human piece of garbage walked into a high school with an AR-15 (which he shouldn’t have had in the first place) and shot the place up while the police officers on duty stood outside, hiding behind their cars. Out of this tragedy was born a movement. A movement by anti-Second Amendment students, of which one of their leaders in the insufferable David Hogg. Time after time, David, and his fellow classmates blamed the NRA and law-abiding gun owners across the country for the shooting that happened at their school, saying that they were the ones who had children’s blood on their hands, not the actual shooter who committed the act. Hogg and his group then claimed that they were right and everyone who disagreed with what they said also has blood on their hands and have done the same evil as the actual shooter committed. At a town hall meeting hosted by CNN (whom other?) Cameron Kasky, who is in the same boat as David Hogg, ripped into United States Senator Marco Rubio, who is the Republican Senator from Florida saying, “It’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz,” who was the shooter. This is such an immoral and terrible thing to say, but it really shows how much hatred and bigotry there is in people who want nothing to do with opposing views. This is the distance they’re willing to go to shut others down. I could go on and on with more examples of this exact same thing happening, but I don’t have enough time to do that. David Hogg also called for a boycott of Laura Ingraham’s sponsors on her show on Fox News when she suggested that Hogg was whining when he wasn’t getting accepted into any colleges. This was probably an ill-advised thing for Ingraham to say but is it really worthy of an attempt to shut down her program? Come on, grow up, kid. If you’re going to compare the NRA and law-abiding gun owners to a person who shot up your school and then call for a boycott when a news show host says something that’s a little mean, you may want to grow up a little.
The question has to be asked: are we, as a society, too far gone to reconcile the gap of intolerance that seems to be continually growing? Is this civil war endless or will it eventually end when all opposing views are shut down and one side lives in an echo chamber and the other side is banned from speaking? Or is there a way out where no one is censored, no matter how crazy, from exercising their right to free speech? I’m optimistic that we can come to the point where we can have disagreements and debates without being bigoted and wanting to shut down the other person. I’m optimistic that we can encourage disagreements and discussions about those disagreements. I never thought I would say this, but let’s have more people like Kanye West who are willing to take the ridicule by stepping outside the box of political correctness and identity politics.
Disagreements are healthy for the betterment of society as they can help provide new ideas and new solutions. Having an open mind can go a long way, and I think that if people in our country begin to exercise doing that on a more regular basis, we can help close the gap of intolerance between those on either side. Let’s have debates. Let’s have heated discussions. Let’s get fired up and raise our voices to show how passionate we are about what we each individually believe. Use your own brain. Have your own thoughts. Think for yourself.