Alexander Hellene

Bring the Division

You see it every major holiday: American news media outlets giving a handy list of tips on how to bring up “uncomfortable” political topics at the dinner table: “How to discuss reproductive rights with your MAGA-hat wearing uncle at Christmas” and that sort of thing.

It’s notable that these tips always flow from left to right, and also that they encourage stirring things up at family events. You can’t just have your Thanksgiving turkey, watch football, and leave the politics aside for one day. No, you have to get in your family’s face if they’re not on the same page as you.

I used to find this attitude childish and rude, particularly the denouement many of these articles left the reader with: you need to know which family members to cut out of your life.

Really? Like, if your dad isn’t on board with single-payer healthcare or allowing toddlers to go on puberty blockers, you should henceforth close off all communication? Isn’t that a little insane?

Five years ago, I would have said yes. Now, I’m fully on board with this attitude. As with many things, the demon wing of political discourse was ahead of the curve and correct; their fundamental problem lay in the ends that they pursue. Contra many dissident figures, voting does matter: for too long, we’ve been tricked into thinking that process is what matters, into accepting bad outcomes as long as the rules were followed, without taking into consideration who makes the rules and, more importantly, who enforces them.

And in order to know who these people are, you need to know where they stand. On everything.

*     *     *

A vital point before we go on: these people always project. They envision apocalyptic scenarios where they lose one election and then get rounded up into death camps, even though that never happens to them, because this is what they want to do to you once they achieve total power. Projection is a metric so reliable, it should be classified as a hard science.

In other words, these people lie about nearly everything. As such, when they actually tell the truth from time to time, it should be taken seriously.

*     *     *

Of all the things in this world to be disgusted by, lies should be right up there. It’s one thing to have disagreements. It’s another to have someone tell you to your face that they don’t disagree with you, and then act in the opposite manner. Worse is when you are told one thing and others are told another.

Imperfect information makes decision making difficult. If you think someone believes X, then you’ll act accordingly. If they secretly believe Y, it’s like negotiating a contract with someone who has no intention of being bound by the terms: there is no meeting of the minds. You simply can’t connect with someone who is not being truthful.

Whether personal life or national policy, for things that appear frivolous or things that are matters of life and death, you need to know where people stand, what they believe, and what they’re willing and able to do. Otherwise, what’s the point? Empty words, false promises, and a mountain of ill will.

I think about this when I look at the world at large. Masks are slipping. Truth is coming out, and whether it is objective, capital-T truth or just the truth of what someone actually thinks and feels and believes, truth is good, even if it is horrible.

In the past, I thought it was gauche for people to bring political issues into family situations. If you can’t ask your uncle whom you see once a year to pass the gravy even if he voted for a different puppet in a nice suit than you did, just stay home.

But staying home doesn’t help bring about what is really going on.

I want the conversations to start. I want to be able to identify the people who hold beliefs that are anathema to mine. Let me know, please, that I should have nothing to do with you. I’m civil. I can have these conversations without getting emotionally worked up into a red-faced, screaming rage. But the other side has proven time and again that they cannot.

Good. I want to be aware of this so I don’t invite you to next year’s feast. I want you away from me, away from my kids, and out of my life. Anyway, you started it.

The era of live and let live is over. That was a stupid and destructive philosophy anyway. Economic good times and relative peace were able to paper over deep, festering divisions. This did nobody any good. It just kicked the can down the road for when the chasm grew so wide as to be unbridgeable.

I’m fine with that. I want to know. After all, how do you compromise or find common ground with people who secretly hate you and everything you stand for?

You don’t. You can’t.

You can—and should—pray for them. You should embrace civil discussions when they’re possible, if they’re possible. But if not, walk away from them and don’t look back.

I want the sword of truth to cleave deep. I want that gap to be as wide as possible. I want it to be impossible for those with scales over their eyes to ignore the obvious any longer. I want division, strife, and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I want clarity.

Without clarity, we cannot move forward and do what is best, what is right. Without clarity, we’re groping in the dark without even knowing what it is we’re looking to find.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant, so the cliché goes. We also each have our own truth, goes another.

Nah. There is only one truth. You’re either a servant to it or you’re not, and to hell with your personal preference.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:34-36

– Alexander


My sword-and-planet series is called The Swordbringer. Check out the first book, The Last Ancestor, today!

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