Leaving the left behind

When I was younger, and on the left I wish I had listened more. At 43 it has finally settled that the most open-minded people are Conservatives. I never realized that when I was stuck in the leftist cult while in my twenties and part of my thirties.

Sometimes I wonder why I let leftist friends intimidate me into believing leftist dogma. I remember when I was younger being pro-life, of defending the rights of babies and being shamed by friends to think the way they did. And that shame worked, I changed my views.

I changed my views even though I didn’t really believe the news ones. I guess I was weak on that, I really wanted to belong, to fit in, not to be ostracized. Then when I reached my mid-30s and pulled away from the left I became fine with not belonging to those social circles.

I can’t tell you how many of my leftist friends rang me up to yell at me. To call me names. To insult me. To make cheap shots at what they perceived were my personal problems. How personal they got when I dared to think more independently.

A blog follower once commented: “Not one of my conservative friends has ever let differences of opinion get in the way of our friendship. In contrast, recently several of my progressive friends have ‘cancelled’ me, after accusing me of ‘turning right wing’, for holding the same moderate views I always have.”

This was true for me as well. I had friends of 10, 15 years tell me I was stupid, that I was ugly, that I was an attention whore, that I had delusions of grandeur, that I was belligerent, awful, dangerous.

Friends. People I confided in. My crime? Thinking differently. They’d attack my relationship, explaining that it was Keith everyone liked, and that everyone else just tolerated me. Yeah, I’d have female friends take it upon themselves to speak for an entire group which did nothing to foster trust.

Those insults stung hard and it took me some time to get over them. They really believed I was worthy of such verbal and emotional abuse, because I expressed opinions and views they felt I had not right to express. And that’s often what kills me about the left, how censorious they are. They truly believe that dissent is evil.

Eventually I understood fully that it was their problem and their insecurity. I was secure in the fact that I never treated anyone like that, nor would I, simply for thinking independently about current social trends.

I even knew at that time how miserable they were but ignored it. I remember coming home and telling Keith, you know, I have to stop talking to Alisha, or Alex, or whomever it was, because they’re toxic. They’re miserable, they’re unhappy. What I ended up doing was sabotaging the friendships simply to get out of them. Not the most mature means to ending a friendship, I fully own that truth.

But when they were finally out of my life, a weight was lifted. I didn’t feel that misery hanging over me anymore. They were never happy for anyone else, always gossiping and talking shit about others whom they perceived were dumber and less than they were, but then here I was staring at them, both obese and so out-of-control they couldn’t control something as simple as their weight and I felt, “why am I listening to them, but also, why am I joining them on this?” The truth is there was nothing else to talk about.

Many former leftists I’ve met in the last few years have shared similar insights and experiences. That though the ends of said friendships were difficult, they opened up a whole new world for them that was less negative, less toxic, less putrid.

I was out for dinner with Keith and Ramiro a couple of nights ago thinking about this post and I expressed how much happier I am to no longer have those individuals in my life and I questioned why I let those friendships go on longer than I wanted them to. In many cases I knew the friendships were over in 2008 but didn’t fully cut them off until 2013, which was around the time I committed myself to leaving the left.

There was one night when I was out with three friends, I remember their names — Matt, Lisa and Alex — and all three were defending the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists by Islamic extremists. It was at that moment I remember thinking, “that’s enough. I can’t.” Yeah, they felt the 12 cartoonists deserved their deaths, because they were ‘racists’. I was the only one arguing that murder, even the murder of perceived racists, was wrong.

Many former leftists recall similar conversations, and how it inspired them to carve a new path for themselves, but that just like me, they faced a firing squad of insults. Verbal bombs I call them.

It also dawned on me that these insults came from people who claimed to be open-minded. Of being compassionate and empathetic, yet they were malicious when their views were challenged. And all I really did was write a Facebook post. Very rarely were these conversations I had face-to-face.

I write this for another reason and that is to explain that this is why many people refuse to leave the left. They’re afraid. They don’t want to be yelled at, to be bullied, to lose friends or family members.

And think about that for a second. Leftists often believe that your relationship with them is conditional on you agreeing with them on social and political issues. What does that say about them? What does it say about how they view you?

I’ve had ex-friends explain to me that as a gay man I have to think x, y and z. That’s homophobia. You can’t tell me what I can think because I’m gay. Or how to think. We’re just as intellectually diverse as every other single person on the planet.

I’ve had to explain to many liberals that it wasn’t only the Conservative party that kept us down. During the 60s, 70s and 80s our country was under Liberal leadership, the Prime Minister for most of those years was Pierre Elliot Trudeau. It wasn’t some neo-Conservative fascist.

What I do is I focus on the progress. Yes, that progress should never have had to been fought for, but I can’t change any of that. I have to move on and appreciate that I live in a time where gays are treated with respect, where equal rights are now afforded to us. We are certainly not living during the bathhouse raids of 1981. You must understand while reading this that what I wrote here is now considered controversial. If you’re not aligning with victimhood culture as a member of a minority group, you’re an enemy.

Many people in the LGBTQ+ community cannot accept or embrace this. They still want to be perceived as victims because it gives them a purpose to get up in the morning. They don’t want to accept that no one gives a shit about their sexuality anymore.

And that’s a good thing. That’s what they apparently fought for, right? Well, it’s becoming more apparent to me that this was may never have truly been their concern.

This is a diverse world with various perspectives that are valid and in many cases personal. I don’t like the encroachment of leftist ideology into our sacred institutions. But they believe they’ve reached moral purity and that the way they see the world is the correct way. As Margaret Thatcher said once, and I paraphrase: if you believe you have all the correct opinions and views then you’re admitting you have nothing else to learn, and such a claim, is truly dangerous.

I wish leftists were kinder, more gentle people. I wish they allowed for dissent, for other views and perspectives to challenge their own but that is not where we are at the moment. We have to endure the current madness and hope saner times are ahead.

However, I for one, am not holding my breath so I simply go about living my life because I love my life.

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