Many of us are making some big decisions about who we keep in our life from here on out.
I've unfriended, blocked, told off, silently walked away from, and purged so many I've lost count.
Work friends, old friends, tangential friends, and some of my closest relatives. Gone. Just like that. (1)
And it's been difficult to maintain faith that I'm doing the right thing.
Aren't we supposed to find common ground? Aren't we supposed to talk it out? Aren't we supposed to not take "political differences" (2) personally?
I shared a little cartoon that was floating around with a synthetization of twentieth century English philosopher Karl Popper's notion of tolerance. To sum it up: if a society tolerates the views and actions of those who are openly intolerant, then the intolerant will inevitably seize control and eliminate all tolerance. Or, even more simply: we must not tolerate intolerance.
What we're living through and working through right now is... a lot.
And what we're witnessing and experiencing and engaging in feels like a tidal wave of, at last, granting ourselves permission to be vocally and loudly intolerant of intolerance.
But, we also all know this isn't "all of a sudden." This isn't "out of the blue." This isn't happening (1) "just like that."
These people have always been like this.
Or, if not always, then at least they've always had the capacity to be like this, and that they made decisions all along the way to close their minds to anything other than their own myopic understanding of the world and their own comfort zone, and only in the last five years has someone so cruel, so selfish, and so intolerant been in such a high position of influence as to give them permission to unabashedly and violently lash out at anything or anyone they consider "other."
Either way, this is on them, not on us. (3)
And as I've continued to wrap my head around this – reminding myself hourly that, no, I'm not the crazy one here, I'm not the one who's wrong, I'm not the one who's being intolerant – a thought occurred to me.
These people we're cutting ties with...
Family or friends or associates or whatever, no matter how tenuous – or enduring – our relationships to them have been...
These people we're unfriending, blocking, muting, telling off, or silently walking away from...
Would any of us have chosen to spend a single second on them if, at our first meeting, they'd just come out and told us what they were really like and what they really believed?
Seriously, though. If they hadn't started by hiding this enormous well of fear and hate and intolerance and violence and cruelty and selfishness that they have within themselves...
If they hadn't kept the truth about themselves from us because, on some level, I have to believe they knew and they know how wrong they have been and are...
If they hadn't lied and lied and lied to us about who they really, actually, truly at their cores are...
Would any of us have still hit "confirm" on that friend request in the first place?
I don't think so.
So – and I'm saying this in large part so that I have to hold my own self accountable to this once I post it...
Though we will have to take time to mourn these losses, though we will have to cry and rage and wallow and meander through every single bit of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages, and though it is jarring and infuriating and depressing and baffling and utterly unfathomable in some cases that this is how it has to be...
This is how it has to be.
We are doing the right thing.
We are not the crazy or intolerant or selfish ones.
And if we'd known who these people were from the start, we'd never have been friends with them in the first place.
(2) These aren't "political differences."
(3) It's also on them that we have to be Us vs. Them. They started it. Period.