If there’s one person in this world I can really relate to at the moment, it’s Bruce Jenner. While I’m not planning on getting breast implants or cutting my penis off, there is no hiding that I am transitioning.
I’ve been known by most of the people I’ve crossed paths with in life as a bleeding-heart liberal, and for good reason. I was all in on Obama, always stuck my neck out for “minorities” (whatever those are), despised the Second Amendment, held violent, hateful opinions about corporations, and felt the needs of “society” (whatever that is) outweighed those of individual men.
My, how things change.
When I voted for big government in 2008 and 2012, I felt I was choosing the lesser of two evils. And for this, I am sorry. I knowingly chose evil. There is no theory of relativity when it comes to right and wrong. You have to do what’s right, not what makes you feel less bad. From now on, this will remain a fundamental facet of my personal value system. I will never support evil again.
So, how did my transition begin? There were a few key moments. In November 2013, Obama apologized to Americans who were losing their healthcare plans after the enactment of Obamacare, a fate he had reassured the country would not come to fruition, oh, a handful of times. My politics were really shaken up while that was going down, and I learned, paraphrasing Milton Friedman, that politicians (even His Holiness Obama) have the ability to rise above campaign promises.
Around the same time, Barilla pasta was involved in a scandal after its chairman Guido Barilla said he wouldn’t feature a gay couple in his advertisements. He also made it clear that he has no problem with homosexuals, and supports gay marriage. Countless online liberal magazines blatantly misquoted him, and special interest groups were ready to burn him at the stake. I couldn’t believe it. The guy progressively proclaimed support for gay rights, and was admonished by those very people and their devotees.
My liberalism was also hindered by more than a few conversations with fellow democrats who asked me to go get McDonald’s or told me about things they purchased at Walmart. I remember thinking we’re supposed to be against those evil corporations, right? Didn’t we just finish talking about how immoral their advertising is, about how unethically they treat their employees? Whatever movement I had felt I was a part of just didn’t seem to exist in practice.
But I still had to rationalize my disenchantment with the left. I’ve always prided myself on being a thoughtful and considerate person, so I needed something more substantial than a lie from the White House, some misinterpreted comments, and a few friends who failed to walk-the-talk to justify abandoning liberal ideology. Talk radio turned out to be the medium that would help me shed my dead, worn-out, leftist skin.
When I moved to Thailand to start teaching English in 2011, the TV in my apartment only had a few channels in English (BBC, a soccer channel, and a cartoon station that sometimes played Looney Tunes). When Looney Tunes wasn’t on, my laptop served as a much better mode of entertainment, and YouTube has always been my favorite place online. I often watched Louis C.K. clips, and eventually happened upon this gem. Not only did this curry more favor from me for Mr. C.K., but it also turned me on to The Opie and Anthony Show. O&A somehow led me to Loveline with Adam Carolla, and an entire world of well-reasoned, objective, intelligent, and funny new voices turned my world upside down. Or, no pun intended, right-side up. It actually turns out that Andrew Breitbart and I share a similar experience.
This brings me to my first suggestion when it comes to purifying your brain of liberalism:
Start Listening to Smart People
Here’s a list of names: Dennis Prager, Adam Carolla, Anthony Cumia, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Ben Carson, Ayn Rand, Aristotle, Stefan Molyneux, and Daniel.
Aside from the last one (who is a personal friend), I highly recommend lectures, radio broadcasts, debates, and literature produced by these fine thinkers. I credit these folks, among others, for waking me up, and enlightening me to a world of true righteousness, as opposed to the world of “good intentions” that was ceaselessly striking out.
They are far more well-read, experienced, and principled than I, so I highly recommend taking their advice before even listening to mine. I certainly don’t agree with every single word each of them says, but I have great for respect their honesty and fearlessness, as well as the world view they illustrate thanks to those qualities.
While studying, you may feel something before you understand their overall points and assertions. Because of this, make sure you follow my second suggestion:
Stop Getting Offended
I was sensitive as a young man. I think it has to do with being raised Jewish. I don’t consider myself Jewish now, but there’s no denying I had a bris, went to Hebrew school, and was bar mitzvahed. Being raised Jewish in and of itself did not lead me towards oversensitivity, but perhaps being a “minority” (yuck!) did.
Judaism is weird. It’s a religion, but many see it as an ethnicity. Hitler didn’t necessarily want to wipe out the Jewish religion, but, conversely, the Jewish “people”. When it comes to identity, I knew I wasn’t an authentic practicing Jew, but my heritage was something I just couldn’t shake. I was a Jew for life.
Out of my closest friends, only a handful shared my religious upbringing and supposed ethnicity. The majority of my friends were Roman-Catholics, with Irish, German, and Italian roots, the rest being a mixed bag. This made me feel like a bit of an outcast, and calling me a Jew was the easiest way to insult me (Louis C.K. once joked that “Jew” is the only word that is the proper term for a group of people as well as a slur depending on how much stank you put on it). Though I was fully aware that every person in my circle of friends was subject to nasty comments, the verbal barbs thrown at me honestly hurt. I didn’t know how to handle them.
Looking back, one of my greatest regrets is that no one told me that words don’t hurt. I was under the impression that being offended was on par with being in pain, and I really wish it hadn’t been so. Broken legs take months and rehab to heal; feelings can change in an instant. And that’s what we should be telling our kids, not this.
Listening to talk radio and stand-up comedy helped me overcome my sensitivities, and I eventually learned the importance of protecting speech (as well as how close a friend must feel to you to be comfortable hurling racial epithets your way). While it’s incredibly easy to protect popular speech (“treat homosexuals with respect”), it takes courage to defend the words the masses disagree with (“I don’t bake cakes for gay weddings”). I hope to live the rest of my life as a warrior for free speech, and to continue advancing past the phenomenon of being offended.
Now that we’re not getting offended anymore…
Realize that Cultures and Religions are Not Equal
American culture is more civilized than Nepali culture. Christianity is more peaceful than Islam. The Germans are of greater intellect than Pakistanis. There is nothing racist or bigoted or xenophobic about any of those statements. This is because cultures and religions transcend the superficial traits we inherit (i.e.-pale skin or a cleft lip). It’s wrong to judge based on genetics because we don’t choose the way we will appear to others, and we don’t represent our physical features in our daily lives unless we choose to (like idiots). You can be American or Islamic whether you’re black, white, brown, pink, or blue. The way of life in Panama is observable and fair game for criticism. The same goes for Scientology, Democratic-Monarchies, and Estonian culture. Condemnation, as well as praise, are absolutely acceptable when it comes to behavior, policies, and ways of life.
But when it comes to race… well, race doesn’t exist. It was made up by racists and our isolated ancestors! I don’t blame our predecessors for recognizing race because their common sense may have followed this train of thought:
- My skin is fair, his skin is dark
- My eyes are narrow, his eyes are round
- I am short, he is tall
- I eat rice, he eats bread
- I wear a Kimono, he hardly wears anything
- We must be different
I’m sure people run through that mental hallway all the time. But thinking something doesn’t make it real. The Tooth Fairy is not real no matter how many children believe she is. Brown skin is nothing more than the proteins in our body responding to our genetic code. That’s it.
We all have dumb thoughts (Ben). The key is to recognize them, understand why they are dumb, then avoid thinking them again!
Unlike physical features, beliefs and practices are not inherent. They are chosen, and exercised via our individual volition.
I understand that many are born with the misfortune of emerging into a world without objective reasoning or decent morals. It’s a real shame. But by voicing our displeasure with barbaric and savage ways of life, we have a better chance of igniting a renaissance that provides liberty for future generations. Hurting people’s feelings sure isn’t nice, but allowing brutality to reign supreme is contemptible.
I hope you enjoyed reading. I’ll tear down egalitarianism in my next post.