In this ongoing series, it’s time to consider why increasing trust and sympathy is the next radical move the Left needs to take, even towards people who think they’re our enemies.
In part 3, I discussed how to reach the real conflicts in politics through listening. If we have the strength, listening is the only productive outcome from conflict.
Allowing multiple diverse stories to coexist is fundamentally left-wing, but how do we do this with people who hate us?
First, remember what the goal is: Peace.
The reason why listening works is because it allows us to find empathy, build trust, and ultimately create peace.
For peace to win, everyone needs to be on board.
By contrast, the right-wing goal of “Winning” creates conflict and competition. Competition focuses our goals but divides us. If your aim is to win, you don’t need everyone. This is why it sometimes feels like being left-wing is a losing battle, even when our votes almost equally split.
So if your aim is peace and diversity, your goal is totally different than winning. A majority of people being peaceful, progressive and chill doesn’t cancel out the people who feel aggrieved, angry and victimised.
Why do people get angry at the left?
No matter how beautifully inclusive a left-wing policy might seem, somehow there’s always people against it.
The strength of the left is trying to protect the interests of everyone, not just the strongest or most powerful. Considering everyone is a complicated goal, and requires nuance and compromise.
For people who define themselves first as individuals, there’s no reason to waste time considering others. What’s the point of climate regulation and protecting future generations if it ruins my view?
Good policies alone won’t change an individualistic worldview, you need humans to make a difference.
Why do the Left get angry at people?
The left has gained a strange reputation for being exclusionary, despite warm foundational values of inclusion and compromise.
Aside from people who will weaponise any insult, there’s a sliver of truth to the exclusiveness of the left. As a protection against bad faith, staying hostile to “outsider” viewpoints is efficient. Perhaps too efficient.
Regular people get locked out of “ivory tower” left wingers alongside bad-faith activists.
But just because you lack the language of social justice, it doesn’t mean you don’t care about it. We all want the same things for ourselves and people we love, no matter the language or concepts we use to describe them.
How the Left can build bridges
It’s not hypocrisy to reject values that oppose tolerance, or refuse to engage with people about the validity of our political values.
However, it’s ineffective to pick and choose which people we support. If we only ever support people who agree with our values, how are we not creating an echo chamber?
The key to including everyone starts at ground level.
We need to practice the reality of what including everyone truly means, by including “enemies”. Although they disagree with you, they are valuable individuals and their story matters. Treating them with compassion doesn’t hinge on their acceptance.
How we perceive political opponents is our decision
For the right wing, enemies must be silenced or defeated. For the left it’s nonsensical to try to “defeat” an opponent while fighting for our common humanity. We don’t have to play their game, and devalue them just because they distrust us.
We can care about them whether they want us to or not. No one can take away that strength. This is the Left’s winning move, woefully underused.
Unlike vicious attacks, caring is healing and full of hope. Whether other people “want” to be cared about or not, it strengthens our politics to love and include their humanity. We can reject hateful tactics or harmful actions, whilst accepting their reality and working to include it as part of the communities we live in.
It’s not always easy to care about other people. It feels unfair to ask people who are dedicated to caring, to also care about people who despise this. But it makes us stronger and more whole politically.
The Left Wing Power Move is Caring
Preaching wholesome inclusivity whilst fighting right-wingers weakens us more than them. Fighting undermines our politics and gives into theirs, so it’s crucial to change this narrative.
It’s time to “fight” on our own terms and not give into division. Caring more and fighting less might not change what other people think, but that was never in our control. Instead, it changes how we use our energy.
Left-wing politics never needed aggression or point scoring. We’re strongest when we are collaborative instead of insular and critical. That’s why it’s time to give empathy a chance instead of competition.
Thanks for reading. This is the final post in a 4 part series, and apologies for any errors in it. Some days you’re just pretty tired, but I felt this needed to be said. Next week, I’m hoping to start a new series about common misconceptions about why people are Left wing. Subscribe or follow on Facebook to see more when I post! 🙂
Post-Note: The best part of being left wing is not being “on the right side of history”. That’s a nebulous claim, even if it feels instinctively right. Everyone thinks they are on the right side of history, even if they didn’t get to write our history books. People are scared of the future, and everyone thinks they are fighting to protect it. Whether they are fighting for self-determination or democracy, there’s a pure motivation behind everyone in their own story.