Stop treating every issue like a sports rivalry

posted by Jeff | Sunday, January 11, 2015, 7:53 PM | comments: 0

Sports rivalries are a very global phenomenon (ask soccer fans), but it seems like Americans take these rivalries to an entirely new level. I mean, Ohioans seem obsessed with Ohio State, and Cleveland fans have an insane undying devotion to their teams no matter how much they suck. I can't explain it.

What frustrates the shit out of me is that it seems most people treat every issue like a sports rivalry. Right now, our entire political culture is predicated on the idea that you have to pick a side, and "cheer" for the opposite of whatever your opposition stands for, if anything. Look at the last presidential election, which wasn't based on the merits of any policy or position. Instead it was based on the opposite of whatever Obama did, which was ironic because he really didn't do much of anything. (That's a future post, on that topic alone.) It's like saying I'm going to drink only cold drinks because you drink hot drinks. It's stupid. Why pick a side if they both suck?

Or look at the recent topic around police action and civil rights. Here we have a number of very public deaths of people at the hand of police officers. The two teams are, "Cops can do no wrong, so do what they say," and, "Cops are out to get us." The reality isn't either one of these extremes, especially in the context of any given incident. The truth is that there are police who blatantly abuse their power and commit civil rights violations, and there are criminals with no regard for the law. Anyone taking a side is suggesting that we can't support our law enforcement officers while having high expectations for their performance. Those two things aren't mutually exclusive.

How about immigration? There are the people who don't want anyone not born here to immigrate, legal or not, and the people who want to make it easier so they can legally contribute to society. It doesn't seem like anyone is willing to find a middle ground on that one, even though it probably makes the most sense.

The worst thing is that the sports fan analogy ends at commitment to a side, because beyond that it devolves into a divisive and hateful stance where people dig in their heels. Some literally hate the other side.

Personally, my frustration comes with the unwillingness of people to find the middle ground as an acceptable solution to our problems. I often have strong opinions about things, but I do my best to shy away from any particular extreme. The extremes don't move us forward.


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