Then I was talking to a friend on her blog and the second lesson of the day happened. The topic was, in a round about way, whether or not you need to "be there" to "get it". Let me enlarge on that.
There is an idea out there that unless you have suffered in some way, either by the toss of the dice that is life, or by your own actions, that you are essentially clueless. I don't agree with this, and conversely not everyone who has had a lot of ruts in their road learns from it. But some do.
And here's where it gets complicated, is there a lesson to be had from a person who learned their lesson the hard way?
We won't name names, or go into great detail because you never know who is reading, but there is a man, an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, who I run into regularly, but actively avoid, who had a very, very hard lesson. It would be easy to pity him, or in fact admire him because it did change him. It changed him almost totally.
Politically it turned him on his head. He went from the right to the left so fast, there was a blur. Life smacked him upside the head, and he "saw the light".
This isn't so very uncommon.
I'd like to briefly mention something here that I read in another forum, and this was an opinion stated by an educator. That could make it quite wrong in itself, due to the obvious bias shown, but I'd like you to just accept it as is.
"Taking a statistics class one year, the professor was rather political and he and i would sometimes spar about issues. He was liberal; I was from a liberal background but in a "conservative phase"...He was one day talking about some form of corruption on the part of some (American) conservative politicians. I countered by saying the same exists on the (political) left. Then he hit me. He said something that literally changed my life, and I never forgot it. He said, in so many words, that, there is no equivalency of value systems, (the context of our discussion was American politics). He explained that conservatism and liberalism do not represent two sides of the same coin, but REPRESENT TWO VERY DIFFERENT VALUE SYSTEMS AND WAYS OF BEING IN THE WORLD. (Much like we are studying). Now, I would argue that what is equivalent may be the degree to which human beings ever authentically live out their value systems (always problematic). But I was dumbstruck because deep within me I recognized that what he had said is true. THERE IS A QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCE IN WORLDVIEWS............As a political person, I have studied this question all my life. My statistics professor was absolutely correct: conservatism represents a way of living and being in the world, and a value system which inherently lends itself to injustice and the perpetuation of inequity and exploitation in society. Full Stop!"
Let's not pretend I've never stated a similar view about value systems. I have. And I've been taken to task over it. I've been told, in no uncertain terms, believe me, by self-proclaimed "conservatives", that they are the ones with the right values, that they are, for example, every bit as caring and compassionate as those further to the left, or more so. They take exception, very much to the idea. I said as much, just to be fair (yes, Melanie stood up for the conservatives, don't faint, although I also questioned the definition of "conservative"), but I confess I do see two different value systems.
No matter how you look at it, there is truth in that. Doesn't matter which you consider to be the "better" one. They are different.
It is for that reason that when a person crosses over from one to the other, it is a fascinating phenomenon to watch.
I really ought to be very "pro" this guy and his change of heart. He now shares my values and my views. What's stopping me?
Well, when he was on the right he was very hard on the left. Critical. Rude, even. The lack of empathy was extreme, and as a result of his attitude, I developed an intense dislike of him. As I've pointed out many times, it's not a person's politics that I can't abide, it's their attitude. I know many good people on the right. They sincerely believe that the right-wing attitude is the best for everyone. I don't agree, I think they are mistaken, but their intentions are good. They are well-meaning, and that's why I like them.
This man seemed to me to be uncaring about those in need, blaming them for it, leaving no room for mercy.
After his life-changing experience he appeared to have developed a heart. But now, his vitriol, his bitterness is aimed at the right. He now attacks anyone who espouses the beliefs he used to have. He is critical, and rude.
I am finding this hard to overlook. I know I should forgive him, but I'm not a forgiving person. I don't understand how someone can face such a lesson, learn from it in one way, and still not learn the bigger lesson, which is tolerance. To me in the most important way of all, he still hasn't "got it". In fact it seems WORSE now somehow, that he is raging against a mindset he knows. Or maybe that's why he does it, who knows. They say what we hate most is what we see in ourselves.
Of course, by my rejection of the sincerity of his new value system, based purely on his attitude towards the old one, I am not being tolerant either. This is my problem, and I suppose I'll figure it out eventually.