March 25, 2022

Making Friends with Republicans

Jonathan and Britt have a challenging and illuminating conversation about the nature of building community, particularly with those profoundly different than us. Politics are life, and our differences can feel utterly overwhelming, but if we truly believe we’re all in this together it’s incumbent upon us to build bridges with all members of our pluralistic society and extend our hearts to the places that scare us. Our dignity is not up for debate, but if we approach our connections from a deep well of confidence and self-worth, we can both draw boundaries and embrace everyone. But most importantly they discuss a variety of strategies to resist our culture of convincing and cancelling, and create a culture of consequences and connection – all steeped in embodied courage, compassion, vulnerability, and love.

Join us on this wild ride, as we delve into the tough stuff and plumb the depths of our souls. You won’t want to miss it!


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Transcript

Jonathan [00:00:02] Welcome to "Not Going Quietly," the podcast where we inspire growth, beat down biases and get into all sorts of good trouble with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Brett East.

 

Britt [00:00:11] No topic is off limits as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.

 

Jonathan [00:00:19] So get ready to join us for some courageous conversation because "Not Going Quietly" starts right now.

 

Britt [00:00:30] Everyone, welcome to another episode of Not Going Quietly, the podcast for outraged optimists and heartbroken healers all over the world where we discuss the things that nobody else was willing to, but everybody else is dying to hear. My name is Britt East. I'm here with my fabulous co-host Jonathan Beale. Jonathan, how the hell are you today?

 

Jonathan [00:00:51] Now, do you want the British response or the American response?

 

Britt [00:00:55] I'll take the British response today, you had your chance at the American response to do it every time. Let's just go for authenticity.

 

Jonathan [00:01:03] I'm good. Things are shifting. There's some stuff in the works that are changing for me. So things are on the up and we're in the middle of a storm, but it's great. We're heading into spring far. How about you? Are you going to give me the American response or the British response?

 

Britt [00:01:22] For those of you who have not joined us before, I was teasing Jonathan that Americans are the eternal optimists. Optimism at all costs. So when you're asking how you're doing, you either give a terse kind of "Fine, go away," or you're more likely to say something like, "Perfect and improving," just to prove that you're winning, because that's really what matters most to those of us in the U.S. So, you know, I'm going to give you the honest response today. I'm doing honestly, really well and having a kind of a nice, quiet day of self-care and packing, because my husband and I are headed to New York City tomorrow on vacation. So yesterday was stressful doing all the, you know, pre-planning and everything like that. But today I think we're all ready to go. So now it's just a matter of the final preparations.

 

Jonathan [00:02:14] That's amazing. I love that. And I loved your British response, so

 

Britt [00:02:19] I figured you would. So, you know, today we're going to talk about a tough topic, at least for me personally, because I have a lot of prejudices, frankly and a lot of strong opinions. And I mean, maybe like for many of us coming from a place of pain today, we're going to talk about how in the heck we can be friends with people who disagree with us. And I don't mean, like, disagree with us on their favorite movie or their favorite band or type of music. I'm talking about profound disagreements, about the ways we see the world and how those impact our daily lives and particularly crossing that political divide. And so, you know, if you're like me and ultra politically liberal, it can be really challenging to see Republicans or people in the conservative movement or, you know, Trumpists (or whatever you want to call them, or however you are going to define this segment of the population) in their highest good? You know, it's really easy to paint them in a negative light, and we'll do some of that later on, because it's fun. But you know, when we're talking about building community and honoring the fact that, hey, we are all in this together, if we're really honest, that means all of us, including them. And so how do we start to extend our hearts to the places that scare us?

 

Jonathan [00:04:02] Yeah. This is going to be fun. I'm getting the feeling that I'm going to get challenged. I'm excited about this.

 

Britt [00:04:12] Yeah, you probably will. Because this

 

Jonathan [00:04:14] right? It's tough because because it feels like we're talking about vast differences in value systems, right? And and I'm going to challenge you on this today and I've got a feeling I know on which part.

 

Britt [00:04:34] Yeah, it's probably really bright and flashing and painfully obvious. So yeah, let's get into it. I think the first thing that we have to start with, as always, is the harm and the privilege. And the harm is that if we're really being honest, straight white cis men have been burning the world for generations. That's a fact. Yes, I mean, that's just not debatable. And so we have to start there that our hesitation or apprehension or fear or anger is born out of righteousness. And yet if we're truly all in this together, dwelling in that anger is is not going to help us create the life of our dreams, help us truly build community. We might have to go through that anger, fully experience that, fully experience the harm, so we can be honest with ourselves about the state of the world and our relationships are born out of a sense of authenticity. But if we dwell there, if we get stuck there, we're likely to over time become demotivated. Hopeless, helpless. You know, these cheap dopamine hits that we get from self-righteous indignation and anger upfront probably have diminishing returns over time. And so we're likely to find ourselves more and more alone and less and less enchanted with the world.

 

Jonathan [00:06:09] Yes, it is really interesting because I realized, not realized, I've now about this existing for a while, but I spent a long time angry at myself for being white and straight-presenting and ostensibly male, right? Because I am. I got really angry at my privilege which that gave me and and wanted to reject it, and I kind of reached the point where all it was was self-harm. And that actually you get to use your privilege to to create change in the world. It does absolutely no good for you to get angry at yourself for something that you can't change.

 

Britt [00:06:55] Yeah. And like, you can't control it. I mean, say you want to opt out of your privilege. It's just not possible because it's conferred on us by others. So as soon as we try and opt out, we are immediately swimming in our own privilege again. So like you said, all we can do is use it, leverage it, to lift up others. And if we get mired in self-hate, then we're not lifting up others. We're staying in this kind of...we're creating a pity party, this kind of white liberal guilt cliché where we're again derailing the trajectory of our greatest good. Maybe with the best of intentions, but with some misguided thinking, talking about privilege and in, you know, coming to, you know, sort of hate your own privilege, or regret your journeyy, or regret your identity, and that really gets us nowhere.

 

Jonathan [00:07:52] Yeah. No, it doesn't. And it actually doesn't help us to support those who are swimming in privilege to see to see that they're swimming in privilege, right? Because actually all it does is really reinforce the problem. And so being able to set an example, I suppose, to to step out into the world and say, Hey, yeah, like this is easy for me and I'm not. I am not using it for personal gain beyond what I need right to exist in this world. And I'm standing up for my desires to create equity...I don't want where I'm where I was going with that. There was something around equality and equity. I was going to say equity as a preferred choice. But where was I going with that, right? Rescue me...

 

Britt [00:08:54] I think that it was the acknowledgment that we are all complex mixtures of adversity and privilege. We stand at the intersections of multiple identities. So for instance, me, I am swimming in privilege. When you look at the fact that I am born in the US, that's an unfair advantage. I am white and I am ostensibly male. I am tall. I'm able bodied. I'm neurotypical. It goes on and on and on. And I have adversity as well, particularly coming from the fact that I'm queer. So, you know, we are complex mixtures and it's important to be honest about that. So we understand where we might need extra support and attention in terms of, you know, your word of equity and we might conversely have extra means to give others.

 

Jonathan [00:09:49] Yes. And so once we've dealt with that, where do we go now? I think if we're talking about...

 

Britt [00:09:59] I think politics are life. And you know, another form of privilege is to say, "I'm not political, I just don't like politics. I don't. It's boring. I just I don't want to argue. Can't we just have Thanksgiving in peace? Or can't we just, you know, get the family together? And why are you always arguing you're so angry?" You know, that line of thinking is a form of gaslighting because it discounts the fact that for all of us, ultimately, these political decisions impact our daily lives. And so these are high stakes battles. One of my favorite writers and speakers, Sonya Renee Taylor, says that we have a "hierarchy of bodies" in our culture, that society places upon us. And so if we only deal with the privilege and diversity at the top of that hierarchy, we're leaving everybody else below. And so in many cases, are very survival is at stake. And these are moral conversations and debates that we're wrapping in public policy. It's like I said at the beginning, it's not like just having a different taste in fashion or communication skills. These are in many cases like impacting our ability to live our lives.

 

Jonathan [00:11:24] Yes. Yes. I had something and then it went off to a good start today. So I think where I was going to go next with that was. And so how how do we even begin to engage with people who are who are who on the at least on the surface, seem to have entirely different belief structures and value systems to us? 

 

Britt [00:12:03] I think that it depends on the nature of the relationship. So for instance, if we're talking about people that are closest to us, maybe our family or chosen family or blood relations, primary caregivers, whomever those people in our innermost social orbit that are essential to our lives. I don't know that it's helpful to have grand theoretical debates on public policy may sound contradictory to what I said previously, but here's where I'm going. I think it might be more effective and loving to have an embodied response. For instance, what we can do and what I often challenge queer people to do is to sit down with those loved ones in a safe, private, intimate setting one on one, maybe one on, you know, maybe a small group and ask them, for instance, to hold and truly consider from the heart space, not a place of blame or shame, the cost and consequence of their bigotry on your life. And it will bring them, if you do this from a heart space, it will likely bring them to their knees in many cases. Queer people say, "Oh, it's not worth it. It's no, they're never going to change. It's no big deal." My challenge is you're worth it. You're worth the uncomfortable conversations, the heartfelt moments and when you are coming at this from a heart space, and you pose simple questions, as opposed to grand theoretical debates and arguments, I think you're likely to bypass the rote talking points that have been drilled into other people's heads, and encounter a space of true connection, especially if you embody it through tears, through a heavy breath, through a fallen face. And I think that you might, even if it's no guarantee of anything on their reaction. But there is going to be so much growth and honor in the way you extend your heart in that moment and the way what you evoke from them and invite from them that regardless of how they respond in the moment, I think that you will experience as a queer person as softening and the lightning that allows you to live more deeply.

 

Jonathan [00:14:41] OK, so I have a few things. One is I think we should really actually recognize some of some of the actual harm that has happened over the last perhaps five 10 years, mainly because of political differences. And you know, whilst you have had Trumpism and we have had Brexit, it's had and to a degree, we've had the conservatism and the rise of a very far right to political views that have caused whole families to stop talking and to disconnect entirely because of drastically different belief systems, drastically different views. Now we can go into all of the reasons why that even began in the first place. But I think recognizing that there is a lack of real connection going on around a lot of these issues is the place to start, right? Because because whilst it's great to be able to sit down and have a conversation from your heart, it strikes me that that that we're talking about a level of radicalized views that often that may be almost impossible to start with because we're not talking about a little difference in. You on values. We're talking about emotion driven fear, anger, hate and. And if we if we're to really dial it in, we're talking about fear, fear for safety. Right. And there is nothing more animating emotional than the fear of your or your family's safety. And what I see is the across the board there is a level of scaremongering and propaganda going on. That means that sometimes these conversations aren't possible at all. And so how do we reconcile that? Because when you are fully entrenched in perhaps what you've been told and, I will stop in a minute, I promise and let you respond. But when you are so totally entrenched and we're talking about conversation, I think it's really important that we use to step back from this idea of trying to convince somebody to our belief or our view is the right way. And I think that a lot of that goes on. I think there's a lot of no, you must believe what I believe. Otherwise you are wrong. And and how do we navigate that? I know I've tried a lot of you. Apparently that came out of nowhere. I'm back.

 

[00:18:08]  

 

Britt [00:18:09] I think this is one of those questions without answers. One of life's mysteries. In the end, the inner debate will likely go like this. "How do I embody my true self authenticity, set of values, mission vision principles, no matter who's in the room, while also maintaining some semblance of peace, generosity, curiosity, empathy, care concern and understanding without giving tacit approval to repugnant beliefs?" So let's take, for instance, in the US, something really cut and dry. In the US, we have upwards of one million excess deaths in the last couple of years, some percentage of which is due to COVID. Some percentage of which could have been avoided had we had a more cohesive public policy, in particular without the Soviet style disinformation campaign designed to separate people from their money. And so, you know, I'm picking something that's really cut and dry with, like really simple moral values at stake. There's all sorts of neurocognitive research out there, particularly within the realm of cult deprogramming, that shows that the more we engage in principled debates, the more we harden people's preexisting beliefs. We're really unlikely to convince anybody of anything through direct debate one on one, much less on social media. So if we're finding ourselves, you know, we talked about the extreme case of people that are closest in our lives on the other side of the spectrum, random strangers on social media for finding ourselves getting drawn into theoretical arguments, we might ask ourselves what's really going on here, you know, and what are we getting out of that? Because we're we're really unlikely to get anywhere.

 

Jonathan [00:20:34] So and I think the key problem here, above all, is that everyone believes that they're right and everyone believes that they're doing the right thing. And so how how how do you navigate that? Because if all of us are looking to protect perhaps our loved ones, I know that there's a whole conversation to be had about protecting, you know, humanity on a larger scale and supplying for humanity's humanity on a larger scale. Everyone believes that they're doing. They're doing good. It may come out in ways that cause harm, and they may not be aware of the harm that it's causing, or they may not care because because they believe they are protecting the ones closest to them, which, you know, as tribal people, we look after our tribe, right, whether our tribe is eight billion people, large or not. And that's a whole other conversation. But everyone believes that protecting their own, everyone believes that they're doing the right thing for their own. And how do you navigate that?

 

Britt [00:21:49] Yeah, we all believe we're great kissers with excellent senses of humor. I mean, it's just human nature, and it's so funny. I noticed this maybe five or six years ago, especially when Trump was elected, that they are using the same arguments that we are. To your point, like people on both sides of the political aisle were simply using that as the frame for this conversation. We say identical things about each other. It's kind of amusing now that it is on purpose. That's a Soviet style disinformation and propaganda campaign that people often call, "what about-ism." You know, yes, I may have done this, but what about when you did that? And so that is by design, and that makes this dynamic, particularly precarious and insidious. It's really tough to get rid of. And my belief is that we are not going to be able to break the fever that I believe has taken root here through direct action. My belief is it's going to come through indirect procedures, a lot of one on one embodied conversations,tes are probably best held with people of similar minds where you're arguing about minutia unless you unless this is part of your job function. You know, if you're a politician on a school board or something, that's totally different. But if you're, you know in your day to day life, if you're getting drawn into these political arguments and they're not fun and they feel draining their life, enhancing by all means enjoy. But if they filled draining and you feel like the more you talk, the less you love, then what are we doing? So my my answer is that I prefer indirect procedures through an embodied approach to love that is based, in reality, harm, privilege and authenticity. So we have to acknowledge where we've been, where we are all of the underlying dynamics at play, which means we set aside some of our time and energy each day to get it educated and to reflect on our own participation in even inadvertent participation in these systems so that we can do better and exude more of our values.

 

Jonathan [00:24:32] Do you believe that it's possible in the 21st century with social media, as it is with with the control that corporations and governments have over their populace, says Do you believe that it's possible for us to reach some common ground, where we can begin having real conversations, because the thing that strikes me as the most difficult thing to overcome here is is obviously, biases. Right? It's what this podcast is about, right, biases and and the defensiveness that comes along with them. Like, how do we stand a chance against the billions of pounds and dollars that are spent in reinforcing people's beliefs on a daily basis? And how do we possibly get past that? Because because I think it's wonderful to have an embodied conversation with somebody and share your truth and how it affects you? And there are going to be a percentage of people that are so deeply entrenched that it's going to make no difference whatsoever.

 

Britt [00:25:54] So I think there are two fundamental cognitive biases at play here. There's normalcy bias, which means human beings are predisposed to think things are not that bad if it's not directly materially impacting their daily life in obvious ways. For instance, look, COVID 19 is not that bad because I'm not sick or because nobody my family is sick because the price of gas hasn't gone or whatever, you know, whatever.

 

Jonathan [00:26:22] Can I just say that one's my least favorite?

 

Britt [00:26:24] Yeah, yeah.

 

Jonathan [00:26:32] That one that gets me the angriest.

 

Britt [00:26:35] I think I'm right there with you. And as change agents, it's so hard. It's so difficult to capture the attention of moderate middle America, probably the UK as well, because people are tired. They've got a lot going on in their lives. There's so much need, you know, even if I'm predisposed to respond to something like anti-racism, I might be dealing with misogyny or queer phobia or feeding my family or working three jobs or having multiple generations in my home. The system is so rigged against us that it's really hard. The other, just real quick, the other type of bias we're dealing with is confirmation bias, where I'm predisposed to believe what I already believe. And I seek out evidence that just props up my preexisting beliefs, and I am resistant to change. And so to answer your question about, is it possible? I think yes, in limited ways. I think it actually is possible to reach people, but only indirectly and only slowly. But there is there is dignity and honor in our embodied actions. I am skeptical about out debating another side, because even though I believe that the facts are on my side, I think they are sitting there with just the same opinion. And so I think it's much more likely to find ways to love one another. And I do want to get to specific examples in a minute that I'm that I'm living with personally. I find ways to love one another in a way that, like I said previously, is not tacit approval of behavior outside of our morals or values, but does incorporate and incorporate our highest integrity.

 

Jonathan [00:28:33] Yeah, it's really interesting to your point about the kind of both sides believe. You know what they believe. It's really interesting to watch politics happen in real time from a middle place because it's really interesting to see the narrative about one event like, say, per say in particular, like a US debate or something, a presidential debate, and to watch the narrative on both sides both believe that they're winning. Both believe that they're owning each other. Both believe I like. I mean, it's it's crazy to me. And there was something else I was going to say...

 

Britt [00:29:17] I think we have to acknowledge the money and power at play that drives these narratives. And you know, I keep mentioning it on this podcast. I keep bringing it back to capitalism because I think that's the thing, at least in the US, that nobody wants to talk about. People here are so averse to other political and economic platforms and systems. We're sort of reactive without thinking through things. But if we follow the money, I think we can directly tie it, especially in the cases that you were just articulating, to why certain narratives are written and then mass marketed.

 

Jonathan [00:29:59] Yeah, yeah. And it's interesting because like, yes, I totally get the capitalism argument. Every political system can be abused. And I think that's the problem that we face is that there's always going to be, like you said, a case of what about-ism and there are examples all over the world of socialism failing and communism, like all of this, all of the different systems failing and they all actually none of it really boils down to the money or it boils down to the greed. It boils down to the abuse of power. It boils down to bad actors acting only in their best interests. And I think until we can get past that, until we can get to a place where there are good people in these positions of power, whether it be in a capitalist society or whether it be in a socialist or communist society until we reach that point that whoever is in power is going to. If that bad actor is going to abuse the system and and and cause problems for the people in the system.

 

Britt [00:31:08] Yeah, absolutely. Let's get to some real examples. I want to share some stuff from my life that I deal with on a daily basis because I think this will help ground the conversation and because it's been pretty conceptual up to this point and and help the audience relate to what we're talking about. So I live in Seattle, which is one of the more liberal cities in the world, certainly in the US, and can be kind of a political bubble, when it's of your own affiliation. You know, I'm very liberal. I live in a liberal city, so it's really easy to get that feedback loop that that helps us, that props up denial. And that's part of the reckoning that happened when Trump was elected and other events and stuff. But I have a corporate career in digital marketing and I work for a single company, a fairly large company based in rural Wisconsin, which is in the Upper Midwest, part of the U.S. It's what's known as a purple state in that it has a lot of liberal areas in the state and has a lot of conservative areas in the state. And so if it's not a bellwether in various elections, it does kind of move around and and shift. But where my company is is in rural Wisconsin, which is a deeply red, deeply conservative section. And I work with people who have all sorts of different beliefs and persuasions and stuff. But the prejudice that I approach them with, the default that I approach when I visit the corporate headquarters, because like I said, I work from home 90 percent of the time and especially during the pandemic. But when I do get back, or when I talk to them daily and invariably our morals kind of inform our day to day actions, is that this group of people (now this is my prejudice), this group of people are predisposed to thinking that queer people should be annihilated. They would not use that terminology because that's distasteful. I just mean, based on their voting record, I suspect there's a whole range of belief systems there. Some of us should be gathered and deported or put into some sort of camps. Others of them wish we would just go away or be silent and don't know why we have to come out and make a fuss. Others of them might have grudging acceptance, as long as we don't want to get married. And so there's a there's a whole spectrum of beliefs even within that segment. So these aren't like monoliths we're talking about, where we often simplify in our conversations. But really, when you get down to it, there's nuanced beliefs, and that's why it's so important with those closest to us that we have nuanced conversations. But the way this plays out is that, it's really shaken me over the past few years, is that in many cases, not all of the cases believe me, but in many cases, a lot of them truly like me and have expressed genuine affection for me. And this has messed me up because it's real easy for me to sit back in my liberal wonderland, and cast aspersions at them and judge them often out of righteousness, certainly self-righteousness. But it's really easy for me to say, "Well, why do we have to be the light? Why do queer people always have to be the deal makers. Why are we never the deal breakers? Why are you always so willing to write us out of society, et cetera, et cetera? And you know, where were you during the AIDS epidemic and where, you know..." It's so easy to cast aspersions because they are grounded in truth. But then when you're simultaneously confronted with affection and I mean, genuine, open hearted affection, inquisitiveness about my marriage, extending invitations to my husband to come visit them and go, I had my boss's boss, invited my husband and I to come out to see a soccer match in Minnesota with him, and I was like, what are you talking about? You know, you're you're a Trump supporter! How can you have this cognitive dissonance? It's just like baking my noodle, how can you? And the one hand carried these repugnant beliefs, even if they're kind of going unexpressed. And on the other in your in your pattern of choices and actions in your voting and on the other hand, extend this. And believe me, I mean, it's just my take on it. But this sincere, open hearted invitation and this is just what I get them all the time. And it's like for years, I didn't know what I've been with this company for almost six years now, and I didn't know what to do with it. It just I would wrack my brain is like, How can I not hate these people? But how can I continue to hold this caustic prejudice while they are extending their hearts to me? And how can I also hold what I know to be true about the logical consequences in the way they view my dignity?

 

Jonathan [00:36:18] Yes, it's the cognitive dissonance that really, really gets me, because I really, really understand that, that whilst on the surface we can look at and, you know, basically a political idol and everything that they stand for and and meet somebody in a place where you know that they are a supporter of that and and that we can get ourselves into a place where we're like, Well, if they're a supporter of this person, then they must believe everything that this person represents or or makes normal

 

Britt [00:37:01] or willing to overlook it. And so.

 

Jonathan [00:37:05] Yes. And so I think it really highlights that often people are acting in what they believe is best for perhaps their country because regardless of what this person stands for, they believe that they're going to get a job done. And so they perhaps don't hold the same values or views as as the person that they're voting for or even the party that they're voting for. But they believe that they're going to get something done that's going to impact their lives positively

 

Britt [00:37:41] and they're willing to make it OK. So like, say, for instance, I'll put up a straw man, say, for instance, I am willing to vote for this person that has clearly expressed homophobic policies, but they're going to cut my taxes. I think that's a really commonly expressed trade off among a certain segment of Republicans in the US. What do we do with that as queer people? What do we require from those of us in our lives? Are we, you know, in some cases, you know, for instance, in my life, I made a pragmatic choice to work for a period of time in my career at a company that does not share my values. And that comes with all sorts of moral consequences that I live with on a daily basis. But that's the choice that I've made, and I'm continuing to make it. And you know, I know I'm not alone in that these, you know? And then on the interpersonal level, what I'm what am I willing to require of my loved ones, my coworkers, my acquaintances? Like, how do I establish those spectrums of relatedness and some sense of continuity with my values in a way that again doesn't give tacit approval to repugnant beliefs yet, and also holds people accountable without making things OK, but then honors the fact that none of us are beyond the power of redemption, that we all have equal capacity to love and grow and change.

 

Jonathan [00:39:15] Yeah. I don't know. I think one of the problems that perhaps we face is that some people don't think in broad terms, some people only think in their immediate surroundings, right? They care for their immediate surroundings. And so. So we're also dealing with the normalcy bias here of, well, it doesn't affect me. It might affect some people I know, but it doesn't affect me. And so therefore it doesn't matter. And so I really believe that we get to hold those in our lives to a high standard, right? I really do. Because if we have a value system or moral basis, that means something to us, then then we get to hold those in our lives to that standard. And so I really understand the position of and these people are willing to vote and and essentially potentially make my life worse as a result, because they want to save some money on their taxes, like that's a really difficult hoop to pass through, right? Because witnessing the slow march backwards, which I've been watching in US politics for a few years now, is really difficult. And so on a personal level, because I don't experience it, I can I can empathize with it and I can. I can. I can feel what it would be like. And we're having something similar going on here in the UK at the moment. I really. Then that's the crux of it. Because how do you begin to engage in dialog real, honest, vulnerable dialog with someone who will happily vote? And as a byproduct, reduce your rights or take away your freedoms like that's a really, really difficult place to be. And and if we're if we're if we're coming from the perspective that some people just don't think that white male care too and never will, then then what do you do with that? Do you do you continue to engage with those people or do you know? And that's where we've ended up. It's we've ended up in a place of utter division and really stark black and white views, and there's utterly no room for conversation or understanding. And that's the really that's the bit that I find most difficult. And whilst for me, like I can say on this side and say, well, all of my views are there. All of my values are there to enhance the lives of others, like that is me on a really high horse and and I have to be really aware of that, right? Because I can't come from a place of moral superiority because at the end of the day, it's all made up anyway. None of it's real. We decided on this stuff as a race or of humans and while mostly white people. But and here we are, right? And so we get to dismantle that. We get it. We get to tear that apart and redefine it. And I think the problem for me that I see is that is that a lot of people's kind of moral stance stance are based on centuries old beliefs that don't really fly today, that don't really support everybody else. And here I am back on my high horse, and it's really difficult. It's really difficult to engage in this from a perspective of also knowing that everyone's trying to protect their own. And everyone believes that they're doing good. And whilst some of it might be motivated by selfish for selfish reasons, i.e. I want to pay less taxes like they also still believe that they're doing their best for their own and it's really it's really challenging. Yeah, I

 

Britt [00:43:23] have another personal example regarding just what you described that I want to share. I'm real quickly before I do that. I want to say something really provocative, though, and that is queer phobia exists in no small part because our allies allow it to. Again, why are we always the deal makers and never the deal breakers, there's people that claim to be our allies that want to be part of our life there that excuse all sorts of behavior choices and language on a daily basis that violates our dignity because it makes their lives easier. And what if we required more of our allies?

 

Jonathan [00:44:06] I think I think that's that is also one of the most difficult things is is that the level of privilege that people experience the the the amount that the system is weighted in their favor, that that equity means that they may have access to less or that they may not. Their life may not be, as it was like to be motivated purely by the desire to maintain your privilege because it comes with certain perks like I really struggle, I really struggle with that, and I struggle mostly because of how unconscious is that behavior?

 

Britt [00:44:49] Exactly. I mean, we benefit from, you know, for instance, for me, I benefit from my maleness, my whiteness, all the other privileges I articulated earlier in ways that I likely don't even understand. And so as much soul searching, reflecting and self-education, personal growth and development, I attempt there's this whole other stuff that I still can't see, and maybe we'll never see. And so it makes it so tough to erode the power and why dismantling systems is maybe more important, if not just equally important to the one on one communication work. But real quickly. I just wanted to share this example from my personal life on your previous point, where one of my beloved coworkers of the same company I described for years and I became friends, and we're kind of not in the same department. And, you know, I start with the presumption, the prejudice there, that all of my coworkers are evangelical Christians or Catholic, and bit of the flavor that carry deeply what we call conservative beliefs that are antithetical to my own values, frankly, and I struggle to walk with them in any sort of way. But I have never had the courage, the bravery, the awareness to initiate these relationships. But I have reciprocated in various kinds when I have felt called and when the affection seems generous. And this is one of them. And we're talking about long distance friendships, of course, because we all live in different states and work remote at this company. And it was particularly challenging because this person initiated some soulful conversations with me. He was aware of my work and this this is a straight white man. And so immediately, I'm kind of pre-triggered. And but I mean, not only aware of my work, read my book, read every single one of my articles. I mean, like, really deeply considering my message. And I and I can only imagine maybe not that would it cost him, but the internal conflict he might have experienced, because my message is pretty brutal and honest and harsh and unflinching. And so for somebody to have that willingness over time and over the course of several years to engage with that, it really deeply touched me. And I carefully, grudgingly, maybe even allow this to kind of get closer and closer as friends and professional colleagues. And then one day I got a letter in the mail, a letter praying for my soul in a way that for me was deeply triggering and I was unable to see maybe the grace in the letter. It felt like a conversion plea or an intervention, maybe is how somebody, maybe this person or somebody like this person might frame it. Where, to your previous point, he literally feared for my soul. And so if I put myself in his shoes and I think, Wow, there's this person I really adore and I genuinely fear for their immortal soul, or however the story goes, I don't even know what. What do I require of myself to save them, to engage with them in a way that might alter the trajectory of their life out of love? And the way I experienced that was very differently. And unfortunately, I was not able to hold it in a way that allowed the relationship to continue. And so we've kind of since moved on. There wasn't a confrontation in this case. It was just kind of a a dissolving, a dissolution. And I think that happens a lot in our culture where we just we don't necessarily risk a harsh conversation or a grandiose goodbye. We just stop reaching out quite as much and kind of back away from one another, and it just touched my heart. There's obviously no answers in this story or grandstanding. I think probably a lot of the the it was probably from both of us. But I think it's illustrative of the dynamic that many of us engage on a, you know, throughout the day, throughout the year.

 

Jonathan [00:49:22] Yeah. And I think what strikes me in that is, is the power of belief like we all we all we all believe certain things to be true. We all believe certain things to exist in a certain way. And and and that can really color the way that we see the world right. And I think that the lens through which we see the world is through our beliefs and and this kind of comes full circle to, yeah, everyone believes that they're doing good. Everyone believes that they're doing the right thing. And we're all doing different things that separately could be perceived as being good. And perhaps we all need to take a step back and see where we are causing harm with the things that we believe. Because because what other people do? It's none of our fucking business. And it boils back to for me, if we aren't harming other people all life forms, if you want to, if you want to extend it to all life on Earth, if we are not causing direct harm to anybody, why should we ever interfere?

 

Britt [00:50:50] Yeah, I think the role of gatekeeper is one that we should all be wary of. First of all, it's exhausting. And Jonathan, I know this firsthand because we once moderated an online community where we had to do a lot of policing. And so it's just draining, exhausting and it's not easy. There's just everything is a gray area because people are irrational and messy and largely don't know why we do anything and, you know, respond reflexively throughout our day, often in reactionary ways. And so it's not easy, and I'm just I'm wary of any dopamine hit that I give myself. And so it's like that self-righteous kind of filtering people in or out, ruling them in or out. It just it does not seem in my intuition. It just does not seem like a path that is right for me to go down that gatekeeping role. And so when we talk about what we require of others, the danger and that there's grace in it because we are standing up for ourselves, for others who have even less privilege paving paths for people who deserve it because it's their birthright. But the flip side of that, or the danger in that is the whole kind of cancel culture versus consequence culture gatekeeper role as soon as we find ourselves grand in grandiose fashion, de-platforming people taking away their voices systematically. I just think we've crossed a line that is we're so far off track to your point that none of us own the marketplace of ideas and that reducing awareness rarely leads to greater understanding as opposed to consequence culture, which is more like, OK, I'm in and I'm making informed choices. I'm maybe boycotting a product, but I'm not deplatforming a product. I'm not preventing a product from being sold. But I personally am boycotting it, and I'm even maybe publicizing that so others can make informed choices of their own. To me, those are very different dynamics.

 

Jonathan [00:53:05] Yes, I completely agree. I think I think that's actually one of the major things that's really missing. And and I'm actually going to blame the US for a lot of this because of things like litigation, culture, like the whole idea that you can just blame everybody else for your choices like that that I find really repugnant because there's utterly no personal responsibility anymore. And and when you have no personal responsibility, consequences don't matter because you can just go out there and do whatever the hell you like. And it doesn't matter because I can just blame someone else. And and that's really gross, actually. I really struggle with, yeah,

 

Britt [00:54:01] Let's take it back to technology. We had these utopian romantic visions of what the internet internet might be. And you know, it's done tremendous good in so many ways in terms of democratizing ideas and breaking down some of these silos of control. That invariably, of course, skewed towards white supremacy and straight supremacy and male supremacy in all of the rest. But what we found is that the pendulum has swung too far the other way where we've learned that expertize and leadership matters and that we without that it can feel like we are drowning in information or drowning in data. Maybe it's not even information, it's just opinions and data. And so it becomes hard to know which end is up and why. It's so important now more than ever that we continually invest in our own self inquiry so we can have clarity conscious, conscious clarity around our personal belief systems. You know, that old adage that if we don't stand for something will fall for anything?

 

Jonathan [00:55:20] Yes. And there's one real, real kind of glaring issue, because whilst it's wonderful that we can sit here and talk about how we can look at our own behaviors and reflect and choose to grow, a lot of people don't think that way. A lot of people don't work that way and may never choose to work that way. And. And so it's really wonderful to sit here on our wonderful high horse of critical thinking and personal reflection and the choice of growth. Like it brings me back to this idea of awakened beings or evolved beings. I can't handle it because the amount of superiority and privilege that's dripping from it just makes my skin crawl. It's crawling right now because until we can get to a place where opportunities are equal and the world is in antiquity until we can get to that place where no one is, no one is disadvantaged for any reason whatsoever. I think it's I think it's I think it's shortsighted and a little and I think it's actually dripping in privilege to believe that everyone has the same opportunities that everybody can can make those choices when faced with lives that are very different from perhaps ours or anybody else using a platform believing that they have perhaps moral superiority or the ability to critically say something. I think it leaves no room for for the myriad other ways that other people experience life and. And so this is like is I don't think this ever ends in. And that's how we solve this because because perhaps there isn't anything to solve. Perhaps. Perhaps the greater issues are that simply the system is designed to create this, that the system is designed to keep us divisive, to keep us uneducated and unable to critically think or or so wrapped up in in being unable to afford life that that you don't have time to personally reflect. Or perhaps your privilege is so far reaching that that you're you're never going to take time to personally select because your life is great and you don't need to write like. There are so many facets to this that make our position one of righteousness and privilege. And I wanted to highlight that.

 

Britt [00:58:48] I just think that when it comes to our interpersonal relationships, all we can do is exude our greatest good, our highest love and integrity, and sometimes we might evoke a higher state of consciousness from those that we come in contact with. But it's certainly no guarantee and absolutely does not imply any sort of consistent change. Social change is messy and uneven and often involves huge quick steps forward, like in the case of queer rights, followed by backlashes. And you know, it's this we live in a dynamic political environment, economic environment. Like I said, people are messy and irrational. Our love is messy and irrational. Everyone will inevitably disappoint us at some time, even ourselves. And that's why all of this is so gut wrenching. The stakes are so high. It's really easy to get carried away on the adrenaline and the dopamine and inadvertently even get swept away in our own self-righteousness. And why? I think in my life, the most sane approach has been one of stillness, has been one of meditation or prayer, has been one of an indirect, embodied approach when it comes to interpersonal relationships or relationships with systems that may be the exact opposite where direct action, bold action is required to dismantle systems. But when it comes to people, I think an indirect, I think indirect procedures are more loving to all of us.

 

Jonathan [01:00:41] Yes, I agree. And I also want to clear up the fact that clearly I believe that the world can be the best place. I wouldn't be doing what I was doing, and I wouldn't be here recording this podcast with you if I didn't believe that there was some way through. I certainly don't believe that it's fruitless, and I am entrenched within my own beliefs about how we might do that. And part of this is we get to challenge that right? Think whilst whilst it's lovely to have this idea of a utopian future where our ideals, our beliefs, our morals and values are the basis for the way humanity lives. I think I like your approach and I like the approach because it gives you space for us to be us and and that's in us as in humanity. That's part of the process.

 

Britt [01:01:49] So, yeah, so when people ask me, should I go on a date with this Republican? Well, that's our avatar today or Tory for the British. You know, should I sit around and be friends with a Republican? My answer? My answer is yes. Definitely yes. Live with the struggle. There is so much on if you avoid the struggle that is the spiritual bypassing that the universe is craving. The universe is craving for you to to experience this mystery and the struggle. And if you try and bypass that, you're really aborting a personal growth journey, at the very least. You're also missing out on all the wonder of the love or the or the camaraderie that you are likely to to to share in this relationship because it challenges you.

 

Jonathan [01:02:45] Yes. Yes, I agree. And and you know, I'm a big believer in having uncomfortable conversations. I spent the last seven years doing it pretty much on repeat because because it is in that space that we grow right. It's in that space that we make space to grow, not just for us, but the people that we want to engage with. And and to your point, earlier, like I'm dissolving relationships. I think that's a real crying shame because there is always an opportunity to find common ground. And we're more similar than we realize we have much more in common than we realize. And and the. More, that we allow the systems to separate us, the more we miss out on the rich richness of life is potentially exactly

 

Britt [01:03:37] if we start to filter whole groups of people from our life, we're just participating in the divisiveness we're claiming to avoid. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, that was a fun little bit of a roller coaster, but I think that this one is going to hit home for people all over the world and definitely on the in the US, where sometimes it can feel like, frankly, we're on the brink of Civil War, frankly, but we actually now have national politicians openly talking about that. So again, the stakes couldn't be higher in certain situations. And so it's definitely, you know, can be an emotionally charged conversation. So I'm hoping that the listeners feel inspired to take stock of their own lives and really look at their social networks and the various the way people orbit them into question, maybe where they're inadvertently ruling people out instead of ruling them in and how they might find ways to extend their hearts to the places that scare them.

 

Jonathan [01:04:59] I love that. I love that.

 

Britt [01:05:02] Well, I think that's maybe a good place to stop today. Yeah, we've covered a lot of ground.

 

Jonathan [01:05:09] I wanted to just say, though, because you mentioned it, go and buy Britt's book, "A Gay Man's Guide To Life" because it's amazing. So scary good. So go and buy it.

 

Britt [01:05:19] Thank you. You can find my book on my website britteast.com. And that's very sweet of you. I really appreciate that. Yeah, yeah. Thank you. And thank you for listening or watching, whatever the case may be, another episode of "Not Going Quietly," our podcast for heartbroken healers and outraged optimists all over the world. We're so grateful for your presence. Please let us know your thoughts, your comments, your questions, and we review everything. So we'll get back to you and we want to hear from you and and hopefully you'll be with us for the next episode. Yeah.

 

Jonathan [01:05:59] See you, later.

 

Britt [01:06:03] You've been listening to not going quietly with co-host Jonathan Beale and Britt East

 

Jonathan [01:06:09] Thanks so much for joining us on this wild ride as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.

 

Britt [01:06:17] Check out our show notes for links, additional information and episodes located on your favorite podcast platform.