I Am Not Your Enemy

I am not your enemy, and you are not mine. I am a son, brother, husband, father, friend and neighbor. I believe in God, love my family and go to work each day. I am an American with a range of beliefs, thoughts and ideas, some of which you are aware, and others we have never discussed. I try to be empathetic, but do not always succeed, as my own experiences and views sometimes blind me to others’ needs.

We can have differences in beliefs, as that is the beauty of America. But sometimes we fail at this ideal. There was a time I was discussing healthcare with someone I was close to. Having been through some significant health issues with my young son and seeing the challenges with the healthcare system, I told him I believed access to affordable health care was a basic human right. This person reacted with the comment, “You sound like one of them.”

Based on my relationship with this person and their knowledge of my son’s history and that I had started a non-profit foundation to help families with seriously ill children, that response was one of the more hurtful things ever said to me. “One of them?,” I wondered. There was no attempt to understand, only label. I unfortunately did not say anything at the time, but I often think back to that comment and see how easily we can place people, even people we are close to, into a faceless group to vilify. And we are all guilty of this to varying degrees.

We are divided because we have allowed those who benefit from our division to control us. Cable news makes money by keeping you watching. Radio talking heads make millions by keeping you listening. Social media profits my keeping you scrolling. While there is value in these communication channels, they also serve to slice, dice, target and segment people in ways that divide, conquer and, most important to them, make money. And politicians across the spectrum have taken advantage of these segmented groups to cement and expand their own power.

I am not your enemy, even though some have tried to convince you otherwise. Broad stroke labels of conservative, liberal, fascist, socialist, et al enable those in power to take away our humanity and make us less human in the eyes of those they wish to control. After all, it is far easier to hate someone when they are part of a faceless group rather than a living, breathing human being who I see and interact with every day.

I am not your enemy, and you are not mine. Let’s try to make the effort to see those with differing views not as our enemy but as someone whose life experiences have provided them with a different perspective from which I can learn and grow. Now while we still might not agree, perhaps we can find a place for understanding, a place where we see each other as we are, and not how those that wish to profit, politically and monetarily, try to define us.

I am not your enemy, and you are not mine.

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