A Word from the Collective Superego

In beginning: what we believe matters. It has consequences for how we behave and what we prioritize. That is not in question.

But there's this urban legend that someone is dirt if they don't have the right ideas. As if no one has ever changed their mind in the history of the world. As if you've never been wrong in your life.

I'm guilty of this kind of thinking too. But I try, when I'm being my better self, to disarm contempt and speak less from hate of the idea incarnate and more for love of the person or, failing that, the truth.

If you've treated everyone well and lived uprightly, I don't think history will care what your private convictions are. At least some of them were good enough that you've done your part to ensure that the world was a better place.

If you've been a crappy person but passionately defended beauty, truth, compassion, and justice, then I appreciate your attempts to spread those ideas, but you've got this all mixed up.

And I get it: half of our lives happen in a world made out of words - social media, text messaging, email - or abstract realities that we can't touch much less change - like the tv shows and movies that everyone is always telling me I should watch. So we get this notion that it's the abstract things that really matter.

"Please sir, can I see your ideology?" Not: "What's the last thing you did for someone that was reasonably selfless?"

People are often wrong. They believe things we can't sympathize with. They vote in ways we don't understand. But we're also complicated and redeemable. Some of us suck, but it isn't always the ones you'd expect. All of us suck some of the time, and that's why we have to have grace and humility: for ourselves and for each other.

I'm pretty sick of divisiveness and tragedies compounded by contempt, mischaracterization, and misunderstanding. It's possible to respect each other, even if we don't share the same beliefs. Maybe it's time we put our energies toward healing the rifts, rather than making them wider.

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