Both Sides Have A Story To Tell

I am writing this post as a commentary to the following article I read this morning. Please take a moment to click the link below, read it and consider both sides:

Peter’s Choice/Mother Jones article

There isn’t much for me to add to the narrative being that it is just an opinion piece, but I will add that at the end of the article, the shared statement is that urban liberals will never understand what it’s like for the conservative south until they spend about a decade living there. I agree with that statement. I have lived in poor, urban areas, lower middle class urban and currently in an upper middle class suburb, so I won’t begin to pretend that I know what life may be like for my extended family members in small town West Virginia or for a small town family in Oklahoma. However, that mentality can’t be one-sided because southern conservatives will also not know what the struggles of urban life feel like. That is why we need to stop arguing over inflammatory points of discussion and start talking about the real, underlying issues.

Do I believe racism and entitlement are a problem in America? Yes. But I also know that trying to force someone to see those things through calling a person a racist or entitled does not help the conversation. Trust me, I have been on both sides of that argument. I have friends that may say that they could care less about how a person feels when they themselves have been treated like a second class citizen for their entire lives. I sympathize with that. I will never say that I fully understand because although I have been very poor in my life and not always been part of the establishment, I have always been a straight, white male, so assimilating into the establishment has always been very easy for me to do. So, while someone may reasonably say that I can never truly understand what it is like to be gay, female or a minority in America, I can say that I have always paid attention and I don’t pretend that things are better than they really are, so I do sympathize.

Now, I may have lost some of my more conservative readers at this point, but if you’re still here, I would like to say that understand your position also. I have often thought to myself that maybe if people would just obey the law, there wouldn’t be an issue and that if the police see a pattern of behavior from certain types of people, isn’t it reasonable to think that they may be more suspicious of people that fit that same basic profile? I mean, if squirrels keep dropping acorns on my head any time I walk under a tree, will I not start growing disdain for all squirrels in general? So, when the average suburban white male complains that they have worked at building themselves a comfortable lifestyle, so they are worried that they may be inundated with more taxes that they can’t afford and also sustain their business, I understand that. These people see the lifestyles that are glorified on TV. There is a disconnect with lavish lifestyles and actual hard work. The average successful, white American male knows there is no quick way to success. They know there may be quick ways to more cash, but the majority of those paths are illegal and also to the detriment of whole communities. They have seen a society that seems to work and don’t understand why non-whites in general just can’t seem to jump on board the same train and live happily instead of shooting each other in the streets over dope money.taxes

Now, I’m not writing this to break down these points with statistics and analysis. We all know how much of that is on the internet today and we also know how much of it can be misconstrued to favor each side of this situation. My intention here is to say that regardless of whether you are white, black, Asian, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, transgender, or any other label we have for being a human being, we all simply want one thing – to survive comfortably. We all want to eat, enjoy our own space and enjoy the company of loved ones. And really, where is the harm in that? Why do we have to worry about what someone else does amongst those they care about if it will never adversely affect our own lives?

This is the part where people may say, “Well Bryan, these people are adversely affecting my life because they are stealing jobs from my neighbors” or “They are shooting people that look like me and getting away with it” or “They got the job I wanted because they are ____ (choose whichever race you like to insert here because someone has an argument for every one of them)”

And my response to that is: are these things truly happening because of someone else or because of the choices you make in life and the people that we vote for? The average individual does not control the economy. Half of all of our neighbors don’t even vote in the general elections and less in the primaries or any other non-presidential election. We the people have become complacent to the idea that it has to always be liberal vs. conservative and I have found that there is no common ground in that arena because nobody truly listens to the other side’s point of view. We are all flooded with so much information that we feel we have to get our point of view stated so that we can move on, but then we get wrapped up in trying to prove that point when most of us don’t even have access to clear facts simply because they are buried under thousands of opinions that can be well thought out and eloquent, so often are mistaken for truths. But my argument to that point is this – in our society, there is not one single absolute truth in American society. For every fact that encompasses the majority of any generalized situation in society, there are also facts supporting the opposition. Every person who needs or wants something also has a person who wants or needs that thing too. It’s not that anyone wants to take it from someone else, it’s just that they are trying to provide for their own needs and desires to get ahead. This is where we all have the same issue and I can honestly say that this is not a race issue or a gender issue; it is a money issue.

Money is required to purchase every resource we need in life. In order for a business to thrive, it has to be profitable, so our resource costs increase as a business grows and becomes more expensive to run. In order for that business to remain efficient and profitable, they must hire quality workers, so they seek out individuals that have resumes showing that they can handle the job without much time wasted on training. Those individuals usually have school loans to pay off and also need to be able to support their own livelihoods, so their wages must be able to support them. Eventually, the costs of running the business balloon to the point where the product itself is priced so high, that those who are in poverty level economic conditions must choose between one resource or the other, so they get stuck in a perpetual balancing act of which resource can be paid for on which month, so they never truly have an opportunity to get ahead.

So, the problem becomes an argument of why one side can seem to get ahead fairly consistently and why the other side can’t and the answers seem pretty clear to those who take a look at those who are succeeding and those who are not because there is a racial imbalance toward either side. This makes all of us retract to our own individual comfort zones and want to thrive amongst those who understand our personal positions. It feels good to be understood and it feels like shit to be told that you’re doing things wrong. It feels like shit to be told you don’t put enough effort into something or that you are an asshole to someone you never met or it is your fault that someone else is suffering.

I just want us all to stop telling each other what we are doing wrong and ask each other how we can help fix it. Lets all stop TALKING AT EACH OTHER and start LISTENING TO WHAT SOMEONE ELSE NEEDS TO FEEL SAFE. Then we can all finally start to understand how to find balance. We should be able to accept that maybe someone may need some help and if we need the help, maybe we should put a little more effort into showing the one helping us that we are actually trying to produce a positive result. Regardless of our personal feelings, we are all part of the same global community. Ask yourself, if the entire planet was threatened by an outside source, would we not come together to protect it? So why can’t we come together to protect the world when it’s biggest threat right now comes from within all of us?

Lets just take a little time to actually listen to each other, shall we?a1media18431-cornel-west-common-hour-discussion-full

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