“To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.”
This phrase took on special meaning for me today as I contemplated the current state of politics, and my propensity to debate and defend what I feel is right.
When I argue about a policy and someone retorts by saying I’m “ignorant” about transpeople, or “racist” – the first thing that pops into mind is how much I love my friends. I have friends who I love dearly who are trans, black, gay and so forth. In some cases we have taken on major battles in our lives together.
I don’t tend to think of these people as my black friends, trans friends, gay friends…… they are just MY. FRIENDS. And that’s it. However, when someone accuses me of racism or transphobia – then suddenly it comes to my attention that they are attacking the love in my heart. Suddenly, I categorize my friends into “trans” and “black” friends because my love for them has been attacked.
I have become the enemy. I have categorized my friends, dehumanized them. Just like the person I’m arguing with. In that moment, my friends are no longer simply people that I love, because they have become “trans,” “black” or some other identity category. The ideology has poisoned the pure love in my heart, at least in that moment, as I seek the language to defend or discuss my point of view.
I feel dirty. Corrupted. I don’t want to put people in these categories. It doesn’t resonate at all with my deeper feelings, but I am forced to think that way if I want to engage in discussions about identity politics.
This leaves me in a tough position: I don’t want to be ideologically pigeonholed or confine myself to an echo chamber. But I also don’t want my mind to be poisoned by language that categorizes people who I love, like meat. I don’t want to become that way.
Language matters. It shapes how we think, and how we feel. The “identity politics” mindset has reigned supreme, because whether we oppose it or support it, ALL OF US are talking about it. Our minds have been conditioned to overthink people’s identity categories, and to associate them with those categories. We can disagree with this mentality all we want, but as long as we are talking about how much we disagree, we’re thinking like them. The ideology and its ‘language’ has infected us all. Such clever marketing.
*Banner photos by Nyack Photography.