We are drowning in a pool of -isms: liberalism, conservatism, feminism, veganism, capitalism, socialism. We view the world through our prisms of -isms, and then we wonder why no one else sees things as we do.
Don’t get me wrong: Your -ism is great. Provided we’re not talking about racism, sexism, ageism, etc. yours is a fine -ism, and you’re welcome to it. The problem with your -ism, though— and mine, and my buddy Rudy’s—is that it isn’t always delicious chocolate to someone else’s creamy peanut butter. When -isms collide, sometimes we get peanut butter cupism, sometimes we leave someone out, and sometimes we get angry.
And man are we angry these days. I’m going to assume that you’re online since you’re reading this (observantism!), so I think I can safely conclude that you’ve run across some vitriolic comments section where many -isms have collided. Perhaps a Facebook friend made an -ism friendly comment (“These colors don’t run!”), or maybe just a joke that didn’t quite work (“I’m with Sir Mix-A-Lot when it comes to mass and spatial topics”), and then it starts: The -isms attack, defend, and battle for superiority. What side of the debate we land on—assuming we’re not quick enough to simply ignore it—depends on our particular -isms.
Because that’s what -isms do: They choose a side, regardless of whether they expressly intend to. If I sign up for one-legged-cosmetologist-ism, by default I’ve excluded two legged cosmetologists. My heart is most likely in the right place: I have nothing against bipedal hairdressers, I just want my group to get a break. That’s admirable.
In fact, most -isms are admirable in some way, and they are trying to achieve the same thing. Virtually all of them, with exception perhaps to Bedazzlerism, strive to improve the lives of some subset of sentient beings. That’s right: The distance separating Sarah McLachlan’s animal rightsism and the Dalai Lama’s Buddhism is the arms of an angel.
Strip away the dogma of the -isms—the prescriptive nonsense—and what we’re left with is the startling reality that at our core we all want the same things. We want a fair shake. We want to be safe, fed, happy, and comfortable. We don’t want to be exploited, subordinated, or manipulated. If we all want the same things, why all the head butting?
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m trading in all of my -isms for a brand new one: Everybodyism, the all-encompassing “I want you to be equal, healthy, happy, safe, and proud” -ism. I don’t care if you’re white, brown, blue, straight, gay, male, female, or Canadian (humorism!). You’re a member of my exclusive club, all 7 billion of you.
Are you willing to drop your -isms and join me in Everybodyism? Seven billion is a big club, but I promise I’ll never make you bring the donuts. And I can get you 15% off of a one-legged haircut—just tell them James sent you (cronyism!).
—originally posted at The Good Men Project
Categories: Good Men Project