I wish "Can't we all just get along?" wasn't such a mocked phrase, there's some wisdom in it.
This morning, nationwide marriage equality became a reality, prompting about half the people you know to change their profile pictures to stock rainbow avatars they found on google image search, and the other half to post walls of text explaining how the fabric of our nation is unravelling at a disturbing rate.
I feel like I've written about three or four "Everybody just chill" columns in the past few months, but that doesn't seem to be working so today's is more than that. This is about how our inability to communicate is crippling everything we hold dear. Also, this is still mostly an entertainment blog, which means movie references for days.
Which really add to the substance of the column if you're sharp enough.
Everybody is connected and nobody understands each other
And it's getting old. The miracle that is social media somehow erodes our ability to discuss, discover, disagree (with class), and assume the best in others. I'm as guilty as anybody, but I have a feeling I'm not the only one here. When someone disagrees with you in person, there's a chance for redemption, for finding common ground, for a morsel of mutual respect despite differences.
When someone disagrees with you on the internet, they're an asshat. It's (apparently) that simple.
Right now, this second as you read this column (thanks for making it this far, by the way) there is an all-out brawl happening all over Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and several other platforms and it's all based on profound misunderstanding.
The rallying cry for those enthusiastic about today's ruling is #LoveWins, which I guess assumes that somebody loses here. Is it hate? Is anybody who doesn't support gay marriage a "hater"? Is it religion? That's painting with broad strokes, don't you think? #LoveWins seems pretty in-your-face to be an honest celebration of love, but it's catchy and people desperately want to feel included in the high school cafeteria that is the internet, so I get it. They mean well. It's a happy day.
And then there's those not so thrilled about this whole marriage equality deal. They're the ones posting articles about the death of the 1st amendment and the fading significance of marriage as an institution. It seems sort of drastic, but I get that too. It's true, family units are crumbling in the year 2015, but am I supposed to believe this is the nail in the coffin? Is marriage equality in direct opposition to the goals of religion? To some, that answer is yes, and it's not because they're "haters", but because they are worried about what the future might hold. They mean well. It's a day to reflect.
Not once have I seen either of these factions try to put themselves in the other's shoes. Probably because both believe whole-heartedly that they don't have to. But how can we hope to understand each other if we don't? It's a useful exercise, you know. If our nation collectively said to me "You know what? You Mormons are too "different" and we don't really understand you, and the thought of y'all getting married kinda weirds us out" well that would be pretty upsetting. I'd be upset. I imagine those friends of mine who are married would be also. I can't imagine growing up, going through school wondering why I wasn't able to marry someone in this awesome America place I call home just because of my religion.
It's not a perfect comparison, obviously. But it helps me understand a new perspective.
This goes the other way too. Too many #LoveWins posts are all about telling folks to shut the hell up because they "lost". First, rounding "religious folks" into one category makes about us much sense as considering people who go to Jamba Juice to all be of the same mind. They might all share one broad thing in common, but some are into that nasty kale and wheat grass BS and others are all about that Strawberry Nirvana. Plus, telling someone to shut the hell up is basically never productive.
There are exceptions.
What's really wrecking things is the "Us vs. Them" mentality
And everybody is guilty of it. I know there will be those who view gay marriage as a blow to this nation's foundational principles, but it hardly compares to the divisive attitude we've all seemed to adopt on every significant issue. It's one of those little factoids you hear about from time to time, that Washington and Lincoln and several others vehemently opposed political parties back in the day, for fear of what's happening now.
Everything has become win or lose. #LoveWins, everyone else can shut up.
Conservatives vs Liberals.
Pro-gun vs anti-gun
Black vs white
Science vs religion
Religion vs everyone
Women vs everyone
I don't know how many people I reach with my small, amateurish internet voice, but goodness people. Us vs Them is an attitude you should have in like, college sports. That's basically it.
But holy crap, it's become fashionable and desirable to be on a "side" of an issue. Of *every* issue. What kind of immature BS is that? I referenced the high school cafeteria in a joke earlier, but that's how we're collectively debating our country's pressing issues now. Which table to you sit at? Are you with the weird kids that stand and eat their sack lunches by the door or do you crowd around that 'popular kid' table of 20 that's only meant to seat 8?
How is any progress supposed to be made when we're attacking each other with the mentality of high schoolers, literally the dumbest human beings in the world? Every issue — Ferguson, Baltimore, the confederate flag, marriage equality, all of it — has become this awful war of attrition where each side tries to out-stupid the other until one makes a minor error and has to run off in shame.
This is all because everything has to be divisive. Everything has to have a 'side'. And under no circumstances is anyone ever allowed to admit that maybe they were wrong.
Holy lemons we are so afraid to be wrong
You know, some would consider a person who changes their opinion as more evidence, details, facts and perspectives became available to be wise.
But we've all basically said "screw that" and created an environment where changing your mind means you're somehow inferior in intellect.
We don't make an effort to understand each other, which leads us to become divisive on issues where we really need to work together to see any sort of improvement, and we can't accept each others' help because in our minds that means we're somehow admitting defeat or something.
I guess it does sound counterintuitive that surrender could ever lead to any sort of victory, but so it goes.
Maybe gay marriage isn't going to be the end of the world — maybe the plague of wanton promiscuity outside the bonds of marriage will be. Maybe #LoveWins doesn't necessarily mean there is a loser. Maybe there is compromise here. Maybe we can just chill out and respect one another and still believe in right and wrong, without buying into Us vs Them.
Maybe God is the type of guy who allows his kids the freedom to make their own choices, but also wishes they'd pay attention when he tells them what the consequences of those choices will be.
Maybe there's a way to hold fast to religious belief and still respect everything that's happened today.
Maybe this post is accidentally turning into a Lennon song.