To my conservative friends and family,
No. I don’t hate you.
There, I said it.
Truth be told, I don’t even dislike you.
I realize this may come as a shock with all the angry rhetoric emerging from both sides of the political aisle. Conservatives calling liberals entitled freeloaders. Liberals calling conservatives bigoted bootlickers. Both sides becoming increasingly more hostile toward the other with every passing day. And who can blame them when our government is doing everything in its power to prompt politically charged civil warfare? But unlike extremist groups on both sides, I’m not endorsing violence against you just because you believe something different than I do.
Quite the contrary, really. I deeply care for you. As a red state native, you are my friends and my neighbors, my sisters and my brothers, my community, and my coworkers. I am not demanding for your blood. I don’t want you tarred and feathered. I don’t even want you to lose your jobs and livelihoods.
I don’t wish any ill will upon you.
But I don’t agree with you.
There was a time when I thought that loving you meant taking a stance of complacency in the face of things I’ve learned to be problematic. I used to think it meant forcing an awkward laugh every time you made a casually or overtly racist remark, but now I realize it means holding you to a higher standard. I used to think it meant supporting you while you put yourself and others at risk, but now I realize it means making you take accountability for your health rather than advocating your self-destruction. I used to think it meant patronizing and validating your beliefs without question, but now I realize it means engaging you as an equal.
Because loving me means loving myself enough not to sacrifice what I believe in for your comfort. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong (and I know we both believe we are “right”) in the world that we are currently living, I can no longer take a stance of nonconfrontation and keep a clean conscience. Because to take a position of neutrality in a situation where an injustice is occurring is to sanction the injustice itself.
And no, I don’t think that you are a bad person, just because I don’t agree with you. I think you are pursuing your own version of the truth based on the information you have. I think you are combatting generations of cultural indoctrination, as I have had to do being born in a state where the dominant mentality is a traditional one. And just as you think it is your duty to “save my eternal soul” by educating me on the tenets of religion, I believe it is my duty to save your mortal one by creating a dialogue that you may not have previously considered.
Because I love you, I know the goodness of your intentions. I don’t believe that conservative is synonymous with racist and traditional is synonymous with evil, but I am asking you to prove it. I’m asking you to forgo your emotionally charged frustrations and I’m asking you to listen—the way I’ve listened to what you have to say in countless talking points recited verbatim in our schools, at church, and in our nepotistic businesses. I’m asking you to lay down your defenses and rise up to the standard of morality that I believe you to possess.
So, no, I don’t hate you.
And because I don’t hate you, I’m asking you to be better.