By Ryan McMillan
I’ve come to believe that a person who considers homosexual behavior a sin can still support gay rights. Likewise, he can abstain from drugs, while contending for another’s right to use them, and never himself own a firearm, but advocate for those who do.
These can exist without contradiction, although at first glance they may seem not to. However, our personal choices don’t need to align with the personal choices of our neighbors in order for us to value our neighbors’ liberty to choose.
It is our shared American value of liberty that enables our peaceful coexistence with those who think and act differently. We can rejoice that, in contradistinction to many brutal regimes and nations of times past and present, a great number of our countrymen still value liberty, limited government, self-reliance, equal rights under the law, and toleration of diverse personal beliefs and habits, save for when those infringe on the rights of others.
One example that illustrates the beauty of our system is the very fact that we have two vociferous sides of a gun rights debate. On the other hand, imagine taking a position on a topic that stood starkly against that of the Soviet regime in the early 20th century. You’d be snatched out of your house, shipped to a forced labor camp, beaten through 16- to 20-hour workdays in subzero temperatures, and possibly left to die — all for your dissenting viewpoint.
Our country has come a long way in the last 200 years, from ending slavery, to drastically reducing poverty, to winning the Cold War, to liberating homosexuals. Unlike Vladimir Lenin, America’s founders realized that opposition was good, and sanctioned a multiparty system within which ideological positions could find homes and be regularly pitted against each other in debate.
One noteworthy example of such debate occurred in 2016, when the now-famous YouTube journalist David Rubin, a professed liberal, had an “ah-ha” moment while contending on his show with conservative African-American Larry Elder. The topic was systemic racism in America and Dave found that he couldn’t defend his claims about it when Larry challenged him.
We tend to get caught up in our own ideological groups and refuse to engage with people we disagree with. Why? Well, because it’s hard.
In Dave’s own words: “Larry proceeded to beat me senseless with facts.” This single discussion with Larry changed what Dave believed about the subject and, afterward, Dave began approaching cultural issues in a different way.
Perhaps counterintuitively, the experience put Dave’s brilliance on display by way of the humility and integrity he demonstrated in publicly admitting defeat. Moreover, Dave continues to cite this clash with Larry as his point of awakening from ideological slumber. And while he still identifies as a classical liberal, Dave is loved by conservatives for his willingness to listen, understand, and sometimes even agree. In this way, he has bridged a gap between reasonable liberals and conservatives.
Go figure: a gay, liberal journalist from New York City is now a confidant of the right. That’s progress.
When asked what will bring us together as a nation, Tim Pool responded, “integration.” This sounds a little simple on its face, but it’s far from it once you understand what Tim has been through to arrive at his conclusion. Through his experiences covering some of the most controversial and even dangerous cultural events, Tim has come to realize that our beliefs actually align much more with those of others than we may think.
We tend to get caught up in our own ideological groups and refuse to engage with people we disagree with. Why? Well, because it’s hard. It’s hard work to listen to someone who has a different view than we do, and admitting we might be wrong can be painful and emotionally draining — especially if we’ve held to certain views for decades. But it pays to remember that the simple act of listening to people who differ from us can change the world.
Imagine, for a moment, any American subculture responding to its opposition with listening, instead of retaliation. Can we challenge ourselves to get outside of our comfort zones and talk to the people with whom we most emphatically disagree? Can we talk with them about why they believe guns should be banned, and about other beliefs they hold that fly in the face of our own? And if we first listen, how might our adversaries respond? Is it possible they’ll listen in return?
The recent riots have caused a lot of tension and turmoil in our country, but they’ve also created an opportunity for 2A supporters, seeing that most adults have by now given at least some thought to how they would protect themselves and their families against an angry and violent antifa-led mob.
Antifa, an organization that believes it is justified in using violence against its political enemies to accomplish its ideological goals, has openly called for violence against American civilians during the proceedings of the past six weeks. While the increase in gun sales stemming from coronavirus hoarding was largely a consumer overreaction, it’s hard to say the increase stemming from antifa threatening suburban America is anything but illegitimate. And it’s also a great segue into conversations with our neighbors about guns.
Some people believe they know more than they really do. They’re afraid to be wrong, and they lack the self-esteem and confidence to seek out other points of view.
When it comes to examples of crossing an ideological aisle for the good of others, Daryl Davis’s story probably takes the cake. A Black man, Davis infiltrated the KKK and convinced 200 Klansmen to leave the Klan.
To be sure, the Klan was among the last organizations Davis would have wanted to associate with, but he put his hatred for it aside in order to focus on the individuals within it. And what he found was that most of the Klansmen just needed integration with those they’d sworn to hate, along with some mentorship.
It isn’t just that some people are evil. It’s more complicated than that. Some people believe they know more than they really do. They’re afraid to be wrong, and they lack the self-esteem and confidence to seek out other points of view.
They get indoctrinated into a cultural system that makes them feel included and educated, but without truly understanding the injustices that system may be perpetrating against others. Oftentimes, their system teaches that people or groups who don’t agree with them need to be destroyed.
But the good news is that there is hope, at least for some of them. Hatred is not an incurable disease; it’s simply a byproduct of insecurity and ignorance.
Violence escalates violence. However, it’s easy enough to defend against physical violence when you’re well-armed and well-trained. The harder thing is to defend against the “violence” of opposing ideas, and yet the marketplace of ideas is where the true battles are fought and won.
As Second Amendment supporters, we need to be armed with guns to protect ourselves from criminals and government tyranny. But even more so, we need to arm ourselves with emotional intelligence and courage to fight the ideological war, which we’ll have to win one difficult conversation at a time.