Despite the title, this book isn’t as doom and gloom as it sounds. As I always remind people, my bias is that I’m very much a liberal. Sure, I have some more conservative views and beliefs, however I’m very much a liberal and always will be. When I hear the word conservative, what I think of is someone who is trying to deny me my human rights, who is actively campaigning to tell me how worthless and immoral I am, who is trying to make me less than human. That is what I automatically think of, even though I know that most conservatives aren’t like that. And then there are the moderates.
This book is, in a way, explaining how the Republican party moved more right and radicalized itself thanks to a few very influential people. The history lesson was much appreciated, believe me. I honestly felt as if I walked away from this book having learned something important about politics.
But, as I said, it’s not a doom and gloom book. It informs and also has a very distinct way that they suggest going about healing the rifts that have appeared.
And, what is that way?
What immediately comes to mind is all the shit that happened on Goodreads over a review where a teenager spoke her beliefs about the LGBT+ community and how it was a lifestyle that she didn’t agree with and didn’t want to have anything to do with. All because of a main character having two fathers.
What broke out was immediate hate towards her. No attempt to talk with her, to get her beliefs, to try to calmly explain why she’s wrong. No chance to even ask her what her life experience was — which, as far as I know, was a very religious home where she wasn’t exposed to “lifestyles” outside what is formally condoned by the Bible.
Shouting. Hate. Insults. Vitriol.
It upset me since I’m a part of the LGBT+ community AND I also know how important religion is to people. There was no empathy from anyone. How do you feel when you’re attacked as a person? Okay, then why attack someone else? Why perpetuate hatred? Why? Just… why.
This book calls for active empathy. And not just for the conservatives who voted for Trump to understand the plight of LGBT+, immigrants, and non-white Americans. But it called for progressives to try to understand the feeling of degradation and the fact that it feels as if their lifestyle is dying away. Rather than hating them, get to know them.
I was raised to always search for one thing that you can have in common with someone. One. That’s it. Just that one thing you can honestly have a common ground for. And then you work from there and try to find more. It opens up so many doors and you can hear so many other perspectives, not staying insular to your beliefs and becoming further radicalized in your perspective (right or left).
And, quite honestly, I think that this book has a beautiful message. Actively empathize with people, even if you don’t agree with them completely. Because if you show a little bit of empathy, you can make friends and persuade people far better than shouting and insulting them.