Neither Left nor Right

By Elisavet

Politics is a dangerous game, not only because it plays with power and superiority, but because it puts us in positions that expose our morality and our beliefs. Politics forces us to pick a side and constantly argue with whomever disagrees. Years of obsessing over politics taught me that no matter which political side you are on, the selfishness of its representatives will always outdo its final goals. No president, no politician, and no political side cares solemnly about jobs, peace and equality for the sake of people, but for the sake of money, power, and entitlement.

During my early teenage years, I was sure of the political side I wanted to support. I believed in equality amongst all people, I was a part of the LGBT community, and I stood up for democracy. I identified as a liberal, a Democrat, and a part of the left-wing community.

When the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting happened in 2016, I spent weeks trying to digest the reality of the event. Terrorism that targeted the gay community was neither rare nor new, so I was accustomed to feeling hated and attacked as a bisexual girl. What frustrated me was the fact that a place where the gay community felt safe and protected had been violated, destroyed, and turned into a mass murder chamber. I realised how unsafe we, as parts of the LGBT were, and that the world would always carry people, who would never accept us.

None of my friends seemed to be as badly affected as I was by the incident. Very few people in my school had heard about the Orlando shooting. Both students and teachers chose to ignore the importance of the event, and did not care to talk about what had happened. Whenever I tried to mention the incident, and how such occurrences affect all of us, people would shrug and change the topic. I swore to myself that I would play my part in politics so that such tragedies would never happen again. I wanted the problems and challenges of the gay community to become significant to everyone. I knew that the only way to spread awareness was to be an active part of the left-wing community, the liberals, the good people who despised and never excused hate crimes.

In 2016, shortly after the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump was elected the president of the United States. I felt devastated and I grew fearful of what the future of politics would turn out to be with Trump as president of one of the most influential countries in the world. I did not know much about Trump. I had only heard about a few of his controversial sayings such as, “grab her by the pussy”, or “let’s build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.” He did not sound like a man I wanted to support. He was on the opposite part of the political spectrum that I believed in. He was so far right, and I was so far left. I saw him as the ultimate enemy, the representative of those who hated people like me, women, homosexuals, immigrants, disabled individuals. I was scared that with Trump in power, terrorists and hateful people would feel encouraged to continue committing hate crimes against minorities. And I remembered that I had sworn to never allow another Orlando shooting to happen again. I thought to myself, “Now it’s the time that we, the left, should fight stronger than ever to defeat the evil man and the right-wing Republicans.”

A year passed by, and in 2017 another violent incident took place in Chicago, one that made me revaluate the political side which I had been supporting. On January 3rd, it was reported on the news that a mentally ill, white 18-year–old boy, was kidnapped and tortured for hours by four black youths. The boy was tied up, beaten, gagged. A piece of his skull was removed with a knife. The four youths who tortured him uploaded a 30-minute long video on Facebook, showcasing the torturing, and yelling “F* Trump!”, and “F* white people.” On the news, bits of the video were shown and I remember feeling sick to my stomach. Seeing the boy having the skin of his head ripped off, and being pulled by the neck as though he was just a sack of meat, sent shivers down my spine. What surprised me was that many people from the left-wing community ignored the incident, others justified and excused it as a revenge in the name of slavery. It was hard to believe that people from my peaceful and united community would justify violence of any kind, and say “this is what you get because of your hateful white race.”

The Chicago incident was a turning point for me. I discovered the ugly side of radical politics and I recognised the hypocrisy within the left-wing community. I was always ready to stand up for minorities, fight for equality and justice as well as recognise the mistakes of the past. However, seeing my community justify a hate crime, because “whites deserve it,” threw me off. Quite frankly, the hate repelled me.

I was exposed to a whole new side of the left-wing. I came across hundreds of feminists believing that “all men were trash” and ought to vanish from earth, that the future is only female, and that men have no problems of their own. I thought to myself how contradictory such beliefs were to feminism, and what the message of the movement primarily was, equality amongst all genders. These hateful feminists did not care about equality; they cared about power and being superior to the male gender. I was caught off guard when I came to the realization that politics was not about our silly messages in favour of peace, but about power. Politics was a battlefield and all about who comes on top, and who stays at the bottom defeated.

I finally saw how angry everyone was. I saw that the idea of achieving global peace and equality was just a disguise. The real goal was to fight one another, see who is right, and make the opponents suffer. I had been angry as well. I wanted to see justice in the world, for anyone and everyone, who had been treated unfairly and their rights had been stripped away. Yet I never wanted to make my opponents suffer, nor did I care about myself being “right”, and the other side being “wrong.” I cared about “what” was right, instead of feeding my pride and ego by belittling others of the opposite side of the political spectrum. I always believed in educating the ignorant, spending time to spread awareness, discuss peacefully, encourage dialogue, not tear each other down, because our political views were different.

I decided to start talking to right-wing conservatives and Republicans. I wanted to test the waters and find out what kind of people my “opponents” were. Were they all monsters who hated women, hated the LGBT, hated people who were not white, hated religions other than Christianity, and worshipped Trump? No, they were not, they were ordinary people, many of them middle class, people of colour, as well as members of the LGBT community. I had multiple discussions with conservatives, and I was always listened to carefully. Although we could not always agree to disagree, I was never shut down nor was I belittled for my different opinions. The acceptance and respect I had received from the right-wing conservatives made me identify as a conservative as well for quite some time. In all honesty, none of my beliefs were “conservative”, but I could not go back to supporting the left and all its contradictions.

Now in my early adulthood, I have made the decision to not involve myself in any specific side of the political spectrum. I have my own system of beliefs and morals. I am the one who defines my morality and acts upon it. I still am and will always be someone who supports equality for all, someone who cares about the issues of all genders, and supports democracy. But I also believe that with equality and equal treatment, negative matters will also arise, and we all as equals should endure them and face the same consequences.

Politics is a dangerous game, although interesting to observe; it becomes a lot more complex, once you pick a side to support and defend. The expectations grow as you slowly see yourself being surrounded by people, who are either this or that, and if you find logic in both, you will also be called a bigot by both. I see no point in revenge. I cannot understand the idea of repeating the brutality from past ignorant white men, in order to send a message, when our purpose is peace and equality amongst all. I have tried to understand the anger and the sadness that people went through, and still go through, because of ignorance and racism. I will stand and defend them as much as I can. However, I cannot pretend that the way to healing is through violence, nor through revenge in search for superiority and power. I only hope that one day the goal of politics will be to unite us all, fight injustice for all, and bring peace to every individual.