Do you ever find yourself struggling to feel compassion for “the other side”? For the racist and misogynistic Trump fans, for Democratic Senators who take money from weapons companies and vote to continue bombing Yemen, or for the BP Oil executives? I know I have. I’ve thought many times: these people are just evil. They’re greedy and stupid. They are the enemy: if we defeat them, everything will be okay.
From an early age, we are fed the good guy vs bad guy narrative. Have you noticed that in most movies, the solution to the problem is to kill the villain?
The trouble with hating the villains is this: when we dehumanize the other, we create the conditions for war. When we see our opponents as subhuman in their morals, conscience, or intelligence, we believe we have to defeat them by force - and force is the weapon of the war economy. And as Audre Lorde says, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
The same hate that “the other side” acts out is the same hate we sometimes exercise in response: it is hate that covers up a deeper pain. In different ways, we’re all suffering because we’re all victims of the same war economy.
We are all in this together, and compassion is the way forward, not hate. This doesn’t mean that we should withdraw from political conversation, but to speak hard truths with love, as we strive to embody here at CODEPINK.
Today, picture a person or group of people you struggle to relate to, and ask with genuine curiosity: what is it like to be you? See if you can imagine the combination of circumstances that brought them to where they are. Can you see the world from their eyes?