Can we afford to turn away?

I warn you, this post is a little weird, and I found inspiration in a strange place. Enjoy!

Today I randomly was watching an interview with Noisey editor Kim Taylor Bennett and Kathleen Hanna, singer for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and most recently The Julie Ruin. I think the interview is very refreshing as Hanna delves into subjects such as political and artistic integrity, Riot Grrrrl, and being a “token feminist,” so I implore you to check it out below.

What I think is very interesting is the conversation, beginning around 5:40, in which Hanna talks about her father, and how she turned away completely from him.

The man, according to Hanna, was in many ways emotionally abusive and threatening. Hanna talks about how she cut him out of her life.

All of this is completely understandable. When I was listening to the interview, though, I was thinking a lot about our current political situation. So many of my liberal friends are prepared to completely cut themselves off from people who voted for Donald Trump.

I see this as a dangerous moment for progressives.

I will put out the disclaimer that I am a white cis-gendered male. It is difficult for me, as someone who is not part of the LGBTQ community, or a minority community, to completely understand what it means to have the leader of your nation campaign on a platform which can be understandably threatening. I do consider myself an ally.

Yet, when I think about how so many progressive people are “turning their back” much in the same way Hanna turned away from her father, I wonder whether what is at stake between both actions might make one less (or more) acceptable.

When it comes to personal choice, the way anybody leads their lives can not, in any reasonable or logical way, be restrained if they truly believe how they feel. I would personally say in cases of addiction, or what could only be construed as generally self-harmful behavior, yes, step in and make your peace.

But from an outsider’s perspective, Hanna’s actions, among many personal actions and choices anybody makes, are in virtually all ways acceptable, at least in my opinion. It seems she could not enjoy a quality of life, let alone feel safe, around her father.

Yet, when I think of the people who have turned away from the political process, or the idea of bridging gaps, what more is at stake? Becoming part of the larger population who did not vote, or pushing the right even further to the right because progressives do not want to meet anybody halfway?

Even further yet, for so many people the world has become a darker place. I consider my position in life, then the position of others, such as minorities or members of the LGBTQ population, or in an even larger example, women. This new administration in many ways presents threats to each of these people, and those who share my experience, at least at this level, are dealing with essentially only a political reality.

What if turning away is self-harmful?

If you haven’t seen it yet, the last episode of John Oliver’s “Last Week, Tonight” really does sum up how I feel about this whole situation, but it is at the end, starting around 17:00.

I beg people who are considering the “other side” as a group which cannot be reasoned with to know this kind of attitude makes the other side more powerful.

Also, I will drop this New York Times Magazine article from April about how a group of volunteers in Los Angeles have reduced prejudice with face-to-face conversations.

What are your thoughts? I welcome all comments! Hope to hear from you!

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