The Myth of the Monolith

I’m seeing a lot of people playing the labeling game.  You know what I mean.  Everyone has those particular stereotypes into which they like to put the people they meet.  This happens most often when people meet other people that are so different from themselves that they struggle to understand them.  And too many people don’t care enough to understand someone beyond the first impression they get.

It’s simple, people.  There is no actual monolithic group of “urban elites” nor is there any monolithic group of “white rural Americans.”

From someone who has spent the greater portion of her life in a city (mostly in the seamy underbelly), we’ve made many great strides toward realizing that there is an entire spectrum of personalities, labels and other ways to separate people from each other.  Even within groups there is a wide range of differences. And, often because of how closely packed urban areas are, we are forced to learn to live along side people who are radically different than ourselves.

And, from now having been living in a rural area for almost 3 years, I am being forced to understand that rural America is no different in that respect. There is just as much diversity in the rural areas as there are in urban areas.

But, it’s easier to want to see each other as the “bad guys.”

It’s easier to blame the reactionary or to prophesy that our world and way of life will die because “conservatives just want the old, bad past to be continued.”

It’s just as easy for the conservative to blame the liberal for “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

Yet neither side wants to admit that maybe, just maybe there might be truth in BOTH worldviews.  And that maybe the “other side” isn’t some monolithic evil.

These attitudes are made worse by those who grew up as an “outsider” in rural America who cannot help but spew hate because of the perceived horrors of their childhoods.  Urban America has their own detractors, who also grew up as “outsiders,” that spew hate because they “fell through the cracks” of the urban system.

I’ve met both liberals and conservatives out here in rural America.  I’ve met those who are religiously conservative but liberal about their politics (hell, I was raised by parents who can be described as such).  I’ve also met people who are religiously liberal, but whose politics are on the conservative side’s extreme conservative fringe.  And I’ve met people who want to spit on BOTH sides.

I’ve been reading things that say “rural America” just wants to “be spoon-fed their own biases” or who are “closed to facts and rationality.” So, what’s wrong with that?  It’s wrong because that is EXACTLY THE SAME THING that rural America says about the “urban elite.”

This comes back around to someone’s subjective reality and their willingness to step outside of it.  There’s an old saw about this: “There is always three sides to every story — your side, their side and the TRUTH.”

We all know that old saw, but how many of us actually pay attention to it?  Depending on how emotionally invested into our own side that we are, it is often difficult to change our minds even with baldly stated truths to the contrary.  I know this one quite personally.  I am a very stubborn person, and from stories related by my parents, I have always been that way.  What that means is that if something doesn’t quite fit into my subjective reality, I have — in the past — been extremely resistant to it. It’s a habit I am trying to change.

Now, there has also been healthy resistance.  I’ve had to advocate for my own health for most of my life, and that requires a lot of stubborn persistence.

As with everything else, there must be a balance.  And we had better start figuring out the balance between urban and rural, progressive and conservative, before we completely implode as a nation.


Categories: Political Opinion | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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