Recently I wrote this post about the polarized politics in United States. A quick recap: the two parties are like two clusters of darts on a dartboard that both miss the bullseye.
Since then, I have been questioning what the "bullseye", or truth is, if both parties are missing the mark. This question was highlighted last week when Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill last week. My conclusion is at the bottom and this is how I came to.
The mistake is seeking precision in the truth. For example, precision that can be defined with one word: "stupid", "uneducated", "racist", "elitist", "baby killer", etc. The truth is actually understanding all of the complexity, the interdependency, the conditions and consequences.
When trying to understand last week, I tried to understand the people involved. Note that I am not trying to excuse their behavior. I'm trying to make sense of it.
I first thought of someone who feels like their government is not looking out for their best interest. I can relate as I don't like running up the debt to the current $27 trillion with no plan to pay for it off; waging war for 18 years with no clear exit plan; partisan politics that seems more concerned about proving the other party is bad than in governing in a healthy responsible way. I'm guessing that last week's protesters have their own issues, some of which may be more personal. No one in government or the media is talking about what matters to this crowd. Trump was so bold as to talk about it, so he was their hero. Then they heard false accusations of fraudulent votes. This could be more easily dismissed if the media didn't appear as so obviously biased: criticizing Trump for everything and then only asking Joe Biden what his favorite ice cream flavor was. Maybe the media had to do everything possible to prevent a Trump victory, but the consequence was the appearance of "stealing the election". At a rally, Trump tells them to go to the capitol and mob mentality takes over. It wasn't a serious attempted coup. Many protesters truly regretted their involvement, not just because they were caught, but because the effects of the mob wore off.
Similarly, last year there was a group of people that took to the streets in protest during the BLM movement. I imagine someone who sees success evading them. As a result, they can only afford to live in an unsafe neighborhood. They count on the police to provide safety but find out their one source of security is actual a force to be feared.
I can't judge the actions of either groups of protesters because I have never been driven to protest. I have a good job. I live in a safe neighborhood. The actions of the government and law enforcement don't negatively impact my life in any significant way. My needs are being met and I have it better than most people that have ever lived in the world.
See that each person is just responding to the complex set of circumstances in their lives. If that leads them to criminal activity, then there is a consequence. But we can still try to understand and maybe even sympathize with others.