What the Left Gets Right: Feelings matter.

What the Left Gets Right: Feelings matter.

One of the things the Radical Left practices, intentionally or otherwise, is the airing of and "working through" of feelings. This often happens in the prevailing ideology's version of struggle sessions that alienate people based on "oppressor" versus "oppressed" identity statuses, but before they devolve to the oppression olympics (as they are wont to do), there's some good stuff that often happens in those spaces. I didn't realize how helpful and even healing some of it was until after I spent some time on the Right. Of course, these are generalizations, but there hasn't been a lot of room or time for feelings since I've been exploring the side the entire culture tells you is immoral if they disagree and uneducated if they won't conform.

In fact, feelings from where I am now seem to be seen as weak or in the way of whatever mission or goal is at hand. I've experienced a lot of whiplash moving from Left to Right, and I didn't realize what that was all about until a recent experience where a conservative man in a position of leadership explicitly and unapologetically dismissed my hurt feelings - that he caused - and only wanted to meet with me to "resolve" the issue to make sure I'd "moved on" so we could "focus on what actually matters."

Now, of course, political persuasion does not automatically dictate a person's stance on feelings. I'm just saying I've noticed a distinct difference in how people on the Right versus people on the Left relate to feelings, and I've had a friend who grew up conservative/in a red state and he affirms what I've noticed. This has been disorienting for me since one of the things that pushed me away from the Left was its overemphasis on feeling: inflating words like "violence" to mean "anything" I don't like and monopolizing meaning making with irrational and codependency-encouraging mantras like "impact matters more than intention" (which in practice usually means "ONLY impact matters"), creating lists of "trigger words" at the beginning of meetings that everyone had to avoid saying and other fragilizing and infantilizing practices under the guise of "inclusion" and "advocating for the marginalized."

I knew I wasn't going to reach my potential being trained to outsource caring for me own feelings onto others and having to constantly be walking on eggshells to caretake other grown adults who could at any time hit me with "oppressor" or other ad hominem attack the minute I said something they simply didn't like. I wanted to take responsibility for myself, since I wasn't really creating a meaningful life otherwise, and the Left's elevating feelings even above reality and at the expense of any and all relationships was not going to get me what I wanted. But they weren't wrong about one thing: feelings do matter.

Have someone ever said something extremely hurtful and unnecessary to you and then claimed they were "just being honest?" Have you experienced distance or even the ending of relationships because you didn't feel your emotions mattered? Have you experienced the struggle to connect with others who dismiss not only your feelings but the importance of feelings in general? That last thing was one of the main contributors to the end of my marriage (that, and lack of forgiveness;  I will be the first to tell you I was not perfect in any way and had my own pretty awful contributions to that relationships' demise). Naval gazing and expecting others to act in such a way that we never ever get hurt around them is unrealistic, narcissistic and damaging interpersonally and societally. But the Left isn't wrong in its concerns for feelings: blowing people off and pretending like feelings don't matter is just as dysfunctional as worshipping them.