There is no question that the left has a different way of thinking than those on the right and that neither group seems capable of truly understanding the other. This is why so many political discussions quickly devolve into both sides screaming meaningless slogans and hurtful – though often quite entertaining – insults. It seems that if we could only bridge that gap in understanding, we could find some common ground upon which to meet — and fall back to — if the discussion degrades. However, despite my liberal education and avid use of Google, I find that I am simply unable to grasp many aspects of the way those on the left think.
I’ve always considered myself a quick learner and a liberal-minded thinker, but my sociological imagination seemed to have failed me entirely. In my insatiable quest for the key to understanding those on the left, I decided to reach out to the only people over on that ideological side of the political equation who might be able to help me understand better: the so-called progressives, or the left if you will. In a final act of desperation, I bought advertisement space in the local university paper to make my case:
Heterosexual white male, early thirties from a predominantly conservative family in a predominantly conservative rural area. Probably too liberal – in the classical sense – for extreme conservatives, yet don’t fully grasp the modern progressive mindset.
Needed: Someone to help me understand leftist thought, motivation, and world-view. Please help! Letters from any calm, rational leftists willing to educate and inform welcome.
Just as suspected, I received a slew of hate mail and threats to inflict bodily harm. However, one letter did rise above the others. So, I thought I would share it with you:
Dear Confused Conservative,
Congratulations on your decision to learn about what you mistakenly call “modern” progressive thought, even if you did commit so many microaggressions in your ad — so much so that I am having trouble writing this without going off on you. Your writing should come with some serious trigger warnings, but we’ll work on that if you’re really willing to learn.
Thinking like a progressive isn’t hard. You just have to leave your intolerant worldview behind. Your many microaggressions betray your white privilege and your superior attitude. By opening your ad with your status as a heterosexual white male in your thirties, you infer you are better than everyone else.
You show homophobic, racists, and sexist thought patterns immediately, and you need to break those habits. Not only will you not truly understand the progressive mindset until you do, but you will also continue to offend via microaggression – even accidentally. By specifying a classical progressive tendency, you insinuate that both those on the left and conservatives are wrong, and maybe even less intelligent than you. But the principle microaggression you committed was inviting any calm, rational progressive to write you. Don’t you realize that sends the message that most progressives aren’t calm or rational?!
To learn and grow, you have to ascertain how to understand the plight of others. That’s what true progressives do, and that, dear sir, is the basis for tolerance. Once you can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you’ll begin to understand them. But be forewarned; your white privilege and toxic masculinity will be hard to rise above. It was hard enough for me, and I wasn’t raised by gun-toting, Bible-thumping, racist rednecks out in the woods!
Wishing you a swift Enlightenment,
Sasha J. Warrick
Despite being insulted in a variety of ways, I couldn’t help but feel that Sasha’s letter might just represent my best shot at understanding his thought process. By continuing our correspondence, can I learn what makes Mr. Warrick tick? Only time will tell.