I'm frustrated with the presidential election, with Trump, with what he's passing and repealing in Congress. But I'm just as frustrated with the swath of educated liberals who hide their inaction toward politically-fired subjects, like equality, behind the curtain of "I'm on the light side."
WE ARE PACK
The election unfortunately forced us into a binary decision, painted in media and memes of the "light side" vs the "dark side." It's a tribal effect, the need to identify with a social group to survive. In that social group, you find strength in numbers. You live in that group and think like that group. You're safe. And you become complacent.
The election was 8 months ago.
Our world, our news, our own commentary still revolves around what The Other Pack said and what they've done. We haven't moved beyond WE ARE PACK mentality. We're comfortable that we've self-identified with the light side (because our own side is always the light side) and throw up the shield "I'm not them, I'm better." We comment on how we can't believe what The Other Pack did, profess that we know a better solution, and then leave it at those words without examining whether we actually embody those ideals ourselves.
It's like two squabbling kids, "she stole my toy!" and "but he stole my toy back and called me names." One may have done more wrong, but it doesn't dissolve the other party from all blame.
A social media example
I posted the following to Facebook in reaction to this article about Trump resurrecting an advisory council for space exploration. The article goes on to say that of the 4 astronauts in the room, Trump only acknowledged the 3 male astronauts and not the 1 female.
My point, which I thought was clear, was that no one in the room raised their voice to correct Trump. Yet every single response to my post except one (from a woman) was to criticize Trump.
Let's take politics out of our daily rhetoric so we can see issues from a new perspective, beyond the light vs. dark side.
Yes, there's multiple issues going on. Trump should've acknowledged Sandy Magnus. Sandy should've said something herself at the time. She shouldn't have brushed it off afterward. But every single person in that room was silent. And I fault them for being "wrong" just as much as I fault Trump--they're Cabinet members, the first man to step on the moon--role models that our children look up to.
I've seen this common theme in social media posts, in conversation, and in the workplace. People are eager to join in and criticize The Other Pack, incredulous of such atrocities, without inspecting their own [in]actions and speaking up.
I pick on the "swath of educated liberals" because I live in the Silicon Valley hub of forward-thinking Democrats. Yes, the area's the leader for companies supporting womens rights, though it's still far from truly equal: sexual harassment cases are just coming to media light this year, companies like Google are being investigated by the Labor Department for unequal pay, and data's being published like female founders being underfunded compared to men ($0.77 to the dollar and dropping) yet code written by women is accepted more often than men's only when their gender is indeterminate from their screenname.
In the same vein, it's my friends, my coworkers, those in this liberal Silicon Valley hub, who exude an entitled air thinking they're more educated than half the country, who profess to know what's best for everyone, who are dumbfounded that others can have different views. I've witnessed:
- A mother telling her daughter "I wasn't good at math either." [Can I get a "but I tried hard..."?]
- A father telling his son not to cry like a girl
- Managers not speaking up when a woman in the room is constantly being talked over
- Coworkers not speaking up when they know there's a huge pay difference between an equivalent, entry-level man vs woman
- Groups of guys on climbing trips with their girlfriends capitalizing everyone's time on climbs they want to do, and their girls capitulating even though they're inwardly disappointed and want to climb in a different area more suited to their ability
- Women not standing up for themselves and brushing pay difference off
- Coworkers not being more empathetic when a woman needs time off for maternity leave--all the outward congratulations and time off are given, but it affects their written language and support 6 months later when they're writing her performance review
- (My examples revolve around womens issues because that's what I'm attuned to. Ask a minority and they'll give parallel stories from their perspective, I'm sure.)
To be clear, I respect that people may have different opinions on womens rights, race, sexual orientation, healthcare, taxes, public lands, abortion and I can have an engaging conversation, even if I disagree. What I'm calling out is the arrogance of pointing fingers while exhibiting those same behaviors that you denounce. That's pretty much the definition of a hypocrite. But at least a well-intentioned one.
A bias-free future
Let's make a workplace where no one's afraid to speak, where managers fight for their employees equally when their work is equivalent, where coworkers write fair performance reviews without subconscious biases. If we take political charge out of daily issues, I bet we'll all be less stressed about the political atmosphere, see daily incidents in a new light, and feel good about our own action in response to those incidents.
After all, Silicon Valley is way too stressful before you add politics into it.