Recently, I was lucky enough to have a pretty interesting conversation with my Uber driver. Her name was Nola. Nola fit the definition of the ‘Eastern Suburbs Soccer Mum’:
4WD Holden Cruze™. Check me the fuck in. So much legroom. Nice.
What followed was standard Uber chat:
“How long have you been driving Uber for?”
Yeah so around a year now! It’s really good money, the hours are so flexible (and etcetera).
“You have any kids?”
Yes, 4. I’m so proud of them (and etcetera).
“Where you grow up?”
Queensland. It’s so nice over there; you should go! (and etcetera).
And from her end:
“Where are you from?
New Zealand! Moved over here when I was 12.
“That sounds amazing, where are you from from though?”
Yeah so my parents grew up in Taiwan.
And as the founder of political news website, the topic of conversation soon turned to politics. And here’s when the story actually goes from annoying gen-Y banter to what I like to call a life nugget.
Definition (n.) Life Nugget:
An otherwise insignificant life event, upon which looking back is actually pretty meaningful. So like a McNugget™, in that you never really feel thankful for them until you’re thinking about its golden, fried crispy crust at three in the morning whilst either:
Safely tucked in bed; or
Black-out drunk vomiting in a street corner
Nola: “Anyways, I don’t actually think Donald Trump is thaaaat bad.”.
Me internally: Okeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
Me externally: “Oh man, yeah. Mmmmmm. He totally is the byproduct of hypocritical lefties right?
I feel her eyes roll into the back of her skull. Her hands tighten around the thick, juicy, faux-leather trim steering wheel of her Holden Cruze™. I see water drip down her brow. Perspiration ting.
“LET ME TELL YOU A STORY, ALEX”
Great. I don’t have to talk for the next 10 minutes. Smart move me.
“So I was sitting in a cafe in Bronte this one time, when I start having a good chat with a nice young lad around your age. Smart looking boy.”
“Anyways, I buy him a coffee and talk for a good 15 minutes when he asks me about Trump. And I tell him, completely rationally, that I don’t think he’s that bad. He’s a guy that tells it like it is, unlike all the politicians we have here”.
“And suddenly, he goes quiet, stands up and says: ‘You’re a racist. You’re an old, f*&king racist. F*&k off" and leaves! Ridiculously rude. Who does he think he is?”
This struck me as a bit off. For the first time in this Uber trip, I’m actually empathising with Nola; the thought of someone telling Nola to ‘f*&k off’ after she’d just bought him coffee seemed a bit unfair. Isn’t this the behaviour that us lefties complain about all the time -- that people on the other side of the political spectrum don’t want to listen, or are just downright rude? Or maybe the bigger question is that how can anyone be so confident that their political leanings are so correct as to justify treating another person badly?
Or maybe i’m just not confident enough in my own political leanings. Quarter-life crisis ting.
I’m digressing again.
For me, modern politics has really been reduced to the following:
Side 1: F*&k off
Side 2: No u
Side 1: k bye
Side 2: F*&k u
Side 1: No u
A dialogue which I think is not conducive to good discussion.
For political action to happen, we need everyone, no matter what you political stance you take to cooperate with one another, and that requires empathy. Empathy to understand why someone would feel what they feel, and a shared sense of compassion towards people who we don’t agree with. Unity through empathy even (wow, sounds eerily like the catchphrase of your favourite political news website). After all, things get done faster with one-hundred percent of the population behind an idea as opposed to fifty.
Australia should be an environment where dialogue between the two increasingly distant sides of politics should be facilitated, instead of attacked. Even though I don’t really align with Nola’s own world views, she might actually have a point in that people who try to convince her that she’s wrong aren’t actually that nice to her. Hmmmmm. Why is modern society so politically polarised...
So as War once so eloquently put it:
Why can't we be friends. The color of your skin (and/or political orientation) don't matter to me. As long as we can live in harmony.
Mmmm. So true. No wonder Smash Mouth covered that song.
Alex Pan is the founder of www.polity.online, a news website that summarises the arguments for and against political issues so that you can make your own mind up! Check it out.