Recently, a friend suggested that the reason I held my political views was because I lived in Idaho and that if I moved to Southern California, my views would change. Another leftist friend once suggested that we try our own very brief version of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 days (since he wasn’t going to be in town that long) and he go to church with me and I go to a gay bar with him with the thought that perhaps it would change one of our mind’s.
Perhaps, Morgan Spurlock is to blame for the whole thing, as well as programs like Wife Swap.
Spurlock created and starred in the scam documentary Super Size Me in which he went to McDonald’s every day for 30 days and got obscenely and ridiculously sick as a result, even though the results he got were pretty much impossible.
Spurlock to ride the wave of fame and left wing acclaim to his own TV series 30 Days where he’d take people in uncomfortable situations for 30 days. Put an Evangelical born again Christian living in the Castro area with two homosexuals, a Christian stay at home mom moves in for 30 days with two homosexuals, and a hunter moves with animal rights activists, a border security guard moves in with a family of illegal immigrants. To be fair, Spurlock did have a pro-choice activist move in with a pro-life couple who helped women in crisis pregnancies but then proceeded to make them look crazy in the process.
The bias aside, Spurlock’s approach wasn’t all bad. The idea of understanding people you disagree with is good. Understanding can help us talk to each other rather than past each other. It’d be even better if such exchanges were facilitated by people who were a little more objective and with less of an agenda.
Yet, I think this “changing places” concept has given birth to an idea in the heads of many liberals: the political beliefs of their friends who don’t agree with them on politics, but aren’t the ravenous hateful Hellhounds that they expect conservatives to be: Conservatives just haven’t exposed themselves to enough people to know better. If conservatives lived life in more diverse settings and actually got to know people they’d obviously see things our way.
So if the goal of Mr. Spurlock or others promoting these shows was to promote understanding, what they’ve promoted instead is hubris and arrogance.
To be clear, there are some kids who come from very conservative Christian homes who do change their views because of these things. Sadly, many Christian parents paint a false picture of reality. By and large, your average homosexual is not a sexual predator and your average atheist is not a total idiot. And parents who exaggerate and demonize sinful people set their kids to doubt everything they said when they meet a polite homosexual, a sweet and friendly woman who co-habitates, and an atheist with a good sense of humor. Demonization is definitely bad and parents who practice are not painting the truth of the world to their kids.
I should note that this sort of thing doesn’t just go on in Christian homes. It goes on in secular homes but it’s less likely to be called. While Christian kids may go off to secular schools where large liberal subcultures exist, the parents of leftists are far less likely to dole out money to send their kids to a school with a large Christian subculture. Let alone send their kids to sit under orthodox Christian college professors who their kids will worship as gods because of the large number of degrees they possess.
30 days? If liberals want to really try tolerance and understanding, how about $30,000 a year to educate your children at a top Evangelical Christian School. Now there’s a social experiment.
The truth is that our worldviews are formed by many things: our faith, our upbringing, our education, our work experience. One of the big differences politically is marital status, in the last election, Married people voted for Romney 56-42% and the unmarried voted for Obama 62-35%. One wonders if single liberals would appreciate being told they’ll change their political views once they get married?
At the end of the day, the key to real respect may be to drop simplistic explanations for why full grown adults believe differently and try and change people through a vigorous debate in the arena of ideas.