The biggest influence of my political leanings was Ronald Reagan. He was an icon of my childhood and I admired the person I believed him to be. When I was in my senior year of high school I began listening to talk radio both political and religious. I enjoyed radio more than tv and I spent many hours listening and learning. Because of these shows I believed that the people who disagreed with me were not only just misinformed but they were out to ruin this country. “Why would anyone vote Democrat?… if they would only listen to these shows they would know the truth!”. That is what I thought back then.
Everything changed for me in 2007. There was a bill before congress that I was very passionately against. The bill dealt with the banking industry and it would give the banks too much power. I learned that the banks put more money toward supporting this bill than any other bill in history. A lot of that money went to the Republicans. When I listened to the debates I discovered that the very politicians on the other side of the political isle, that I was made to believe were out to ruin this country, were expressing my views and arguing for a “no” vote.
This re-contextualized my political beliefs and I had to re-exam the past and I realized that my political party wasn’t always out to make America a better place. I decided that week to no longer support any political party and I now vote as an independent. Once I examined what my true values were I discovered that they didn’t align with either party so I wanted to remove any political label. When people associate you with a political label they automatically assume that you support everything your party supports.
When you blindly support your tribe (any organization or community you are a part of) and think they are the last word on what is right and true, you will believe anyone who has a different view is influenced by some form of evil. It is important that you take the time to see yourself (and your tribe) from the eyes of those who disagree with you. Even if you don’t agree with them, you will learn something.
The point of this post is a reminder to never be afraid to challenge what you believe. You may think you are right and your tribe is also right but organizations are made up of humans that are just as flawed as you. Don’t ever think that your beliefs and the leaders of your tribe are above being questioned.
When you do eventually question what you believe, people in your tribe will get nervous. They may even tell you the dangers of questioning. But if you never question and learn for yourself you will never know what you truly believe. Being forced into a belief because you are afraid of what would happen if you don’t believe means you never truly believed. The worst that can happen is that you will no longer support the values of your tribe and you will have to leave but it is better for you to leave than to continue pretending that you share their beliefs.
The author Timothy Keller wrote in his book Counterfeit Gods that if Jesus was asked if the Republicans or the Democrats were right he would say that they were both wrong but they both have part of the truth. If they could get past their differences then maybe they could make some real positive change in this country.