The gym I go to is largely Republican.
Good ol boys.
I like those guys a lot. And they like me. I think I’m a novelty to them, the guy with the Mohawk and the Bernie Sanders tattoo.
They are always introducing me to their buddies with
“This is the guy I was tellin ya about.” and then they want me to show their friend my tattoo.
Usually their friends will whip out their cell phones, take a picture and say something like
“My kid will get a kick out of this.”
Then they always try to get me to discuss politics with their friend.
I think it’s their way of saying
“Hey look. I met a liberal that actually makes sense when it talks.”
I could see how some people would get offended by that, but I know that these guys are just like I am, in the sense that they live in an echo-chamber and the only time they get exposed to ideas from the other side is when they see sensationalized corporate “news” or some haughty bumper sticker that says something to the effect of “I’m right! You’re wrong and stupid!! So sit down and shut up, MORON!!!”
Because that’s the level of discourse that America has allowed itself to sink to.
We have become a culture where “cash me outside” is not only accepted, but rewarded.
We are led to believe lies by those who profit from our strife.
We are repeatedly told that those with differing views are here to take away our rights and freedoms.
Corporate media bombards our senses with nonstop messages of fear and entitlement. Our entire nation is gripped in an eternal panic attack, wondering where the next threat will come from.
I was told that these Republican guys were supposed to be my enemies.
But I talked with them and they seemed to have the same hopes and dreams that I have.
They’re good guys.
We learn from each other.
We refuse to let fascist lies divide us.
Today I was getting in my girlfriend’s car, after my workout, when one of the guys stopped me and asked in his Georgia twang
“Where’s the Bernie-mobile?!”
“Blew the transmission yesterday.” I volunteered.
“Gotta get her fixed.” he boomed “That’s more than just a vehicle. That’s a war machine. That thing’s been all over God’s beautiful United States spreading the gospel of Bernie Sanders. If it’s coming off the road then it needs to be in a museum. I think you oughtta get her fixed, Mike”
“I thought about it.” I told him “But it’s got 170,000 miles on it. I think it might be done.”
“Mike, I’m not talkin’ practicality here. I’m talkin’ from the heart. I’m about this close to takin’ up a collection. If I come to the gym and don’t see the Berniemobile, somethin’ just don’t seem right.”
Can I tell you that this man was being completely sincere?
Because he was.
Even though he believes pretty much the direct opposite of Bernie Sanders core Socialist values, he doesn’t hate me for standing up for them.
In fact, he respects my passion and I respect his.
We often end our short, entertaining discussions with him saying
“Man. Every time I think I can dismiss the Democrats as a whole, I talk to you and I feel like there may be hope for them yet.”
And me, with my stock reply
“I ain’t no goddamned Democrat.”
We both smile.
Recently one of the guys at the gym, who was born poor and now owns a huge construction company and is always talking about trickle-down economics and how important they are to America becoming dominant globally again, found out that I was considering changing gyms.
“What’s this I hear about you defecting?” he inquired.
“That new gym that opened charges half what they charge here and they have better equipment. It’s that simple. I like working out here, but I have to save money.”
“Mike, you’re missing the point. The reason why you pay twice as much here is because you are paying for all these programs for people who can’t afford them.”
He pointed at a group of kids playing basketball in the gym down a level from where we were standing.
“You save $20 a month and these kids lose their programs. Is that what you want?”
“Wow!” I said “You’re starting to sound like a Socialist!”
“Well, maybe you’re rubbing off on me.” he replied, smiling.
If this story has a moral, it is to get outside of your echo-chamber and disengage from corporate media.
They sell fear in a time when we need love more than ever.
Find people who see things differently than you and just listen to them.
Don’t try to change their minds.
Just listen and get curious.
Ask them questions and try your best to be nonjudgmental while listening to their answers and you will discover that even those people who have views that are radically dissimilar to yours are still fine people.
I know it’s scary, but there’s the possibility that you could even learn something.
You may also be given the epiphany that if you were this other person, who was born in the environment that they were born into and had received the same data that they had received over their lifetime, then you too would believe as they do.
That’s kind of a big juicy steak of a thought.
I’d advise chewing on it for a while before trying to swallow it.