I’ma gonna go ahead and hijack my own blog for a moment and use it for a topic totally unrelated to my shopping detox challenge:

It seems there is a heck of a lot of anxiety these days (I know it’s not just me). Things are just not going well. It feels like there is stuff in the air, people have a general sense of unease and even panic, for some, depression. The list is endless if you really start to look at it, local tragedies, natural disasters, unnecessary violence here and abroad. Optimism seems at an all time low. I would have to say that the political landscape right now is a leading contributor. What is going on in US politics is particularly disturbing.

My concern  mostly in all of this is that no one seems to be hearing anyone else. This is not new, but it seems to be heightened right now. Is there no civil discourse any more? Yes, there are great articles, balanced or otherwise, that explain each and every angle. All, seem logical and convincing.(This is not unlike the vaccine debate, where the more I looked into each side, the more I couldn’t decide because all sides had valid, convincing points. And those who bullied with their comments pro or against did nothing to help me with my decision, just added to the anxiety) That is what debate is, to convince each other of our view. But, when all of it devolves into name calling and bullying, it’s no longer a debate but a school yard gang-up. I am disturbed by the comments sections on most threads where people are yelling profanities through their keyboards at each other. Since when did you ever manage to convince someone to see your side by first prefacing it with “you’re an ass faced idiot?” and that is a somewhat comedic example, but there is SO much more vile and frightening name-calling out there. Don’t we know that the louder we yell, the less anyone is likely to listen? Perhaps it is because we live in an age where we have anonymity through the internet that we think we can devolve into rude, aggressive assholes? ( See, look, now I’m name-calling!)

And granted, not many of us have learned to listen well. I think that listening, true, active listening, is something that needs to be taught and practiced. Most of the time we are simply waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can put in our two cents; not listening  as we prepare our comeback. I know, I know, this might not be true for you. I have met quite a few good listeners (but they are not the majority – all mamas with kids are, of course exempted, for obvious reasons!). Those people stand out to me because it comes as almost a shock, to realize that they’ve heard what I’ve said and remember, even consider my view point.

I understand, this election cycle has raised everyone’s passions regarding their beliefs and ideals, I get it. I get quite worked up myself. BUT, I am willing to listen.

I’ve been reading a lot and listening a lot. I can understand why Hillary is vilified. I’ve read the naysayer articles, the ones about her corruption, I hope they are not true. There are also intriguing articles about how honest she is (how can she be both? Who is telling the truth?) I also know that she has done more than I will ever do for this country starting way back in the day up until the current moment. She was a revolutionary force in the 60’s and 70’s ( don’t let her clean cut granny look fool you!) When we judge some of her actions, that yes might not be to our liking, we also need to ask, given the pressures and the unknowns (to us since we are not privy to our country’s intel) at play, could I really do better? Would I even know what the frack to do? The answer is no. So, consider that when condemning her – how would you do better? Could you? Do you really know all that was at play or are you basing it on some opinion piece you read? Did you fact check? She is one of the most qualified presidential candidates and yet she has had to endure criticisms as base and sexist as the tone of her voice and her appearance. Unlike other candidates she has to walk a fine line between assertive and meek so as not to be a “bitch” or too “weak”. Poise. And a uniquely female requirement….yes, I will pull the female card, because it’s true. We are, unfortunately, not yet as a society free of gender bias.

Third parties. Also an option or a dire mistake. I’ve heard both. I’ve heard heated arguments for both. All seem convincing. I am more confused than ever. I have always believed that as a true democracy we should vote for the person we want, that my vote wasn’t “thrown away” if I didn’t “vote strategically”. Perhaps I have been a babe in the woods. Or, perhaps, if I and millions of others stick to that belief, actual change could happen. And if, despite that, the system is rigged…well…we have big problems. Or simply a mathematical reality due to our two party system, in which case, if we don’t agree with it, we need to ask for change, but voting third party won’t do a damn thing at the moment. Would a protest vote do anything good? Who is listening? We also need to assess, are the other options truly fit for office? I heard Gary Johnson didn’t know what Aleppo was (or was that spun and taken out of context?)?!? ( So many sides to hear, so much research to do and so little time!)

I am even curious to hear someone’s reasoning for supporting Trump. I really, really want to know. I am willing to listen (Try this: watch the presidential debate where he lurks in the background and flip your mind to being empathetic to him, in that scenario, he is the bullied maverick, pacing as he tries to figure out how to overcome the evil Hillary..it is an interesting exercise ). I am pretty sure, though, that you would be unable to convince me that Trump is anything but bad for us all, not because I am close minded, but because he has literally shown us time and time again that he is unfit for the leader of a country based on his numerous heinous past and current actions (I’m not attaching links because all you have to do is google “Trump”…and honestly, I don’t know where to start). The fact that his rallies insight violence and acts of hate is an instant deal breaker for me; it points at something deeply troubling on so many levels. And I keep thinking that anyone with even a microscopic iota of an intelligence should be able to see that. The fact that they don’t is not because they don’t have an intelligence, it’s because they are voting with emotion not logic . They are focusing on certain aspects of what they like about him to the exclusion of all else- he can do no wrong.( Here is a handy dandy link referring to the Dunning-Kruger effect that argues that intelligence deficit might be at play, though you didn’t hear it from me.)

Which lead to a recent epiphany on my part. I was pondering why it is that Trump has risen so high as to be running for office? I wondered why those who have been and will be walked all over by him, are the ones convinced that he is going to “save the country” (even though it doesn’t need “saving” per se, perhaps a remodel) and work on their behalf. Well, for one, we hear what we want to hear. And if we haven’t been accustomed to opening our minds to other possibilities, we tend to stay in that rut. Some of those ruts are so deep that we only see the sides and can’t see out of it, or the fact that we are in it. I am sure I have ruts.

But the epiphany was this: Those that believe Trump is going to “Save America” are no more deluded than I am when I, a fully intelligent being, believe that I will never grow old.

“What?” you say. Yes. It’s true. I have a REALLY hard time believing that I will grow old. The evidence is all around me: every year I have a birthday, I get older ( I have a few white hairs), the people around me are visibly aging,  I know that people die, but a part of me still believes that it won’t apply to me.This is a hold over from childhood, when the world was new and peachy and everything was as it should be and I had no cares or worries. My family was invincible. I know this to be absolutely, not true, and yet, most days, I believe that I will not age and die, because that is what gets me through each day. It is a creation of my mind, not based on any facts and purely just a personal, emotion based belief. Because I want it to be true.

So, if I can be that delusional (though not susceptible to the Dunning effect, since I am at least aware of this flaw), it isn’t a stretch that others can be the same way regarding other, to me, outlandish beliefs. To stand back and point my finger and say “THOSE people are idiots” is to ignore the fact that I too am selectively illogical. Knowing that, I can’t feel quite as outraged by their stance. It helps me feel a bit more empathy, and that, my friends, is what we are all in need of. We don’t have to agree, we just have to listen. And perhaps, if we can be grown up enough to listen and empathize, perhaps that will one day be reciprocated. After all, it would appear that, en mass, we tend to learn from each other how to operate. Let’s not learn from the Trumps of the world to run our mouths without thought and bully those who don’t see our way. Let’s instead open our ears, consider other possibilities and set an example for what civilized discourse can look like. And maybe, just maybe we can convince another to see our way…or maybe not…and that’s okay too.

And another thing ( Ha! You thought I was finished!). Could we all just step back, take a breath and recognize one thing? Yes, there are many not so good things going on in this country: there’s violence and poverty, there’s the rich getting richer, there’s a deeply flawed health care system…but, for the majority of us, do we not have a roof over our heads? Jobs or the possibility of jobs? Working libraries and schools, fire stations, emergency services, police protection ( I know, don’t say it, there are definite flaws there), grocery stores with (mostly) affordable food? We are free of war, with no threats of bombs falling on our heads. I was reading a story to my girl called “the Water Princess” about a girl in Africa whose sole job along with every woman and child in the village is to get up early, walk all day to (hopefully) get water, muddy and questionably safe, carrying it in bowls on their heads, to finally go home and boil the water before they drink it and cook with it. They do the same every day, with no time to go to school. I was almost in tears reading it. I don’t know what it’s like to not have water when I am thirsty. I have never experienced such a tenuous existence. Let us not forget that we live with such luxuries as water, and food, beds and a roof over us. There are safety nets in place to support us if we fail. So many are not so lucky. Looking at us, those in other countries, in third world conditions must feel as though we are insane, oblivious to what true struggle and need are.We are entitled to our opinion, but we are also entitled. So while we run our mouths off over our opinions about presidential candidates, let’s remember that we are operating from a pretty privileged position, take a deep breath, calm the hate, let more love in and let’s all try to be civil. After all, we are “fighting” for our “civil”ization, in which we all hope to have our needs met: food, shelter, safety and to be treated with respect ( Do you hear that Donald? R E S P E C T). To receive respect you also have to give it.

 

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