Misinformation: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Information: Just because a person might seem to agree with you on one issue does not make them your friend. And the fact that someone disagrees with you on one issue should not make them your enemy.
That kind of thinking is an example of something called two-valued logic. It puts all people into the categories of “good” and “bad.” When someone attacks something you think is “bad,” that means he must be “good.” That’s how children think.
Suppose, for example, that you have a problem with, say, the World Health Organization. With a child’s logic, the fact that someone attacks the WHO would lead you to decide that you therefore should support whatever else he does and says.
Adults know better—they judge leaders not by single beliefs and acts, but by the sum of their words and works over time, and the results. Someone who lies, cheats, provokes hatred, and encourages violence is going to be a bad leader, no matter what individual issues they may appear to agree with you on. If a person is generally sincere, deals fairly, encourages empathy, and discourages violence, that’s someone who could be a good leader, no matter on what individual issues you may disagree with them.
This common-sense truth gets obscured by the noise of political battle, the deluge of misinformation generated by vested interests, and the media’s addiction to the sensational.
There are plenty of issues on which we as citizens have different viewpoints—the role of government, immigration, the legitimacy of capitalism as an economic model, foreign aid, etc., etc. They aren’t simple issues, but if we act like adults we can use the democratic process to find our way forward. No one gets everything they want, but over time, albeit painfully and slowly, civilization and culture make progress.
In our bumpy national history, we have too often seen that progress blocked by self-dealing demagogues who manage to get on the stage for a while and feed on the conflict they are able to generate by intensifying our disagreements.
When that happens, it’s time to act like adults. Now is such a time.