Your human voted Trump/Brexit. What's next?
Unless you’ve been living a life of a hermit crab, you might have caught asking yourself “the hell is wrong with this world?” A nationalistic, racist, homophobic and chauvinistic representative of human species is a president elect of a global superpower, an infamous island of colonisers set fire to an important economic and political alliance, draining itself of key prerequisites for its global leadership position, and a German chancellor is the last proven resort for the free world hopefuls (you slay, Khaleesi). At the same time, millennials are buying avocados instead of real estate, and putting movie, napkins, and golf industries among others, at risk.
How did we get here? - you might be asking (and if you don’t, you should). There are countless opinions raising alarms about information filters, other evils of social media, misguided communication campaigns, failures by current establishment, a drastically divided electorate and so on.
Yet questions we are asking ourselves now are: “What is next? How do we work with people supporting radical movements or hollow promises, without seemingly any critical thought or voting for a candidate that publically brags about harassing women?”
The easiest - and the most juvenile, irresponsible and damaging – response is to demonise people from the other side of a debate and to forget they are human beings, more similar to us than any representative of a political establishment will ever be.
We like to think of ourselves as citizens of the world, and these recent events are one of a few real tests for an international community. We cannot disregard such a large number of people just because their worldview is different from ours. Not only would it go against principles of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship, it is strategically wrong and will not get us far as a society. So what are we to do, exactly?
Let’s face it- it is easier to protest, tweet sarcastically, or make fun of people whose opinions seem childish, ill-informed, or outdated to us. Yet these are the people who brought Brexit & Trump upon us, they made it happen by exercising their right to vote. They were communicating something by casting their vote this particular way. We need to recognize that a large amount of people supports ideologies that seem preposterous to us.
Ok, you have allowed this fact into your informational field, now what?
- Learn what caused people to have such an opinion.
Admitting there is a different opinion is the first step. But what do we do with this insufferable knowledge now? It is paramount to learn what shaped it.
Our surroundings, peers, professional and cultural experiences are what usually makes us believe one thing over another or follow a certain leader. Learning as much as you can about another person’s background will help you understand what is driving ideology that is so alien to yours. Once you get the idea of what the cause of a certain opinion is, you’ll see a wider picture of the world. Having gone through this experience together with the neighbour/peer/parent in question will have established a shared experience for both of you, and will help establish a middle ground for further conversation.
Here comes the most demanding part! Now that your new bestie has shared all the deepest and most disturbing experiences that you inquired about, you might be tempted to run away screaming/accuse them of being closeminded creature/start swearing/ start fighting. Don’t.
Instead, try finding some shared experience: if your new friend complained about a rude immigrant, share a story of how a person with a similar national/ethnic/racial background to you been a total jerk, highlighting that assholishness has no prescribed nationality. Spice things up by respectfully sharing your personal experiences leading you to believe a different thing.
If you both are still there at this point, wrap it up by saying how important it is to have had such an exchange and try appreciating that the other person has decided to open up to you.
There is still a chance that the other person refuses to join such a conversation or engage in a rude and offensive manner. Then just go have some wine and pet a dog, until you meet someone more open to this ever-changing world.