The Unashamed Misfit

Most people want to fit in. I suppose it’s even more accurate to say most people need to fit in. All things being equal I would prefer to “fit in.” But all things are seldom equal and I don’t need to fit in so badly that I’ll sacrifice my core values and principles to do it. 


Years ago the State of Minnesota had a US Senator by the name of Paul Wellstone. Senator Wellstone died tragically in a plane crash years ago while campaigning for re-election. The Senator and I held different views on most topics but there was one thing we had in common…he had no need to fit in either. 


Several times in his Senate career he found himself on the losing side of 99-1 votes. He was the lone Senator who didn’t go along to get along. While I might not have agreed with his principles there was never any doubt that he had principles and that he was ready to fight for them. I admired that about him. 


Paul Wellstone was an unashamed misfit. The fact that he was a principled unashamed misfit made him downright toxic to a lot of people. That was their loss.


One principle that Senator Wellstone held dear was that you could disagree with someone without disrespecting them. He made his case respectfully based on facts and listened to other people’s opinion too, even when their facts disagreed with his. He kept an open mind and was willing to admit when he was wrong. But his principles were rock solid and when he believed he was right he wouldn’t give an inch. 


I never voted for the guy but based on what passes for leadership these days I would say we need more Paul Wellstone types. 


We need them in sports, we need them in business, we need them in politics and we most certainly need them in government. 


Here’s the thing…I would much rather follow a highly principled leader who I disagreed with than follow an unprincipled scallawag of a leader who held the same beliefs as me. I’d have a whole lot a “leading up” to do with the principled leader but even when a decision didn’t go my way I’d know the decision was honorable. 


People the world over need to give people who look different, who think different and who act different a chance. A chance to make their case without being called radically left or radically right. 


People around the world must remember a time when someone being wrong didn’t make them a bad person. People need to recall the days when hating someone because their views or beliefs were different than yours was unacceptable. 


Hate is unacceptable. Well, maybe not for green vegetables but certainly hate for another human being. No matter how “bad” you think that man or that woman may be, hate is wrong. Hate is not the answer. Hate fixes nothing. Hate only destroys the chance for understanding.


Do not wait for “somebody” to do something about the hate and vitriol being spread by supposed journalists and regular people on social media. Each of us can doing something to stop the acceptance of hate by not hating. 


You don’t have to cave on your principles, you don’t have to agree with people whose views are far from yours. You just have to accept the fact that different people were shaped differently by their life experiences and understand how foolish it is to hate them for it. 


Can you imagine a world with no hate? I hope so because anyone who can imagine it can help make it happen…just by not hating. 

And before you say you’ll stop hating when they stop hating remember what my mom used to say to me… “if all the other kids were jumping off a bridge would you jump off the bridge too?”