“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”
– Che Guevara
I’ll preface this by saying that my political beliefs have been nearly everywhere on the spectrum. Currently, according to my voter registration, I am non-partisan, but judging by my hair, piercings, and undying love for Conor Oberst, you can guess which way I swing.
My dad, on the other hand, is an avid fan of Rush Limbaugh, no matter how risqué or allegedly racist his comments get. I have a theory that my dad’s just old and crazy, but I’m not sure that dementia can begin at age 47.
Every time I come home, it’s the same scenario: we discuss my classes, we talk about family drama, and we ease ourselves into a gentle political discussion. Two minutes later, Dad and I both realize that we hold completely opposite points of view. He brings up the standard conservative arguments – all of which I know, because unfortunately I’ve read every single Ann Coulter book published before 2010. I offer a few social justice-focused comebacks, but I can feel the tears of frustration welling up.
We’re misunderstanding each other.
In all reality, I don’t think my dad and I are that different. We both care for others, we both want America and the world to flourish, and we’re both pretty idealistic about our beliefs. But as is the case in most political arguments, we have different means to reach the same end. He believes a free market will most effectively guarantee human success, while I believe that, above anything else, love for others will save us.
Tim Bastian, a Creighton professor who spoke in last Sunday’s Cortina-sponsored Debate, is a lot like my dad. He’s an incredibly smart guy, he’s had decades of experience as a middle-class white male, and he’s extremely practical. And though I can agree with many things he said that night, one statement in particular struck me. He said that one of the most beautiful things about modern day humanity is our ability to trade freely and safely with each other.
Indeed, that is an astonishing and inspiring fact: humans have progressed so much that we can maintain a free market, exercising our ability to produce and purchase goods. What a true display of human creativity and potential.
However, Mr. Bastian, there are more beautiful things about humanity than our knack for creating free market systems.
I believe the most beautiful thing humans can do is transcend their animal nature enough to deeply care for one another, to disregard the savage “circle of life” and trust ourselves to create love instead of succumbing to violence and indifference.
There is absolutely no place for violence in the human race. The fact that we are conscious enough to recognize the humanity in others, the fact that we can create such deep bonds with one another, the fact that we have used our abilities to constantly improve the human condition for as long as our species has existed – for me, all of these facts point to the overwhelming goodness of people. Whether we are innately good or evil does not matter to me. What matters to me is that we can recognize when others suffer and that we have the full capability to do something about it.
Force yourself to care, no matter if you idolize Rush Limbaugh or Che Guevara, no matter if you voted for Obama, Romney, or Gary Johnson. Force yourself to stop polluting the earth with apathy, with things you don’t need, with trash and carbon dioxide and negativity. Force yourself to do more than simply exist.
Shout your indignation at the sky and run steadfastly to help your brothers and sisters who are suffering from injustice.
Because serving others in any way is the absolute most beautiful act of humankind.
Defend that beauty.