Friday, August 31, 2012

Now, get to know one another

As I mentioned on Monday, I've become disillusioned with the political process. Disillusion leads to cynicism and I find myself very close to standing on a street corner and screaming, "the only fundamental difference between the candidates you expect me to choose between is that they disagree on how to spend the money that's left over from the financial institutions that one them!" Or, just sleeping in on election day, because, really, who gives a shit?

I really don't want to become one of those, though. And the only way to fight that off that makes sense to my naive and simplistic sensibility is to bolster my faith in humanity as a collective by appreciating people as individuals. Hence the self-indulgent exercise this week in getting to know people who represent political persuasions. Self-indulgent, in that it was as much for my benefit as anyone else. If you did get some benefit out of it, I'm glad, but it's still "help me to help me."

I want to thank Nancy, Mark and Sean for participating, but beyond that, I want to thank them for not saying anything derisive about the president and his family or his opponent and his family. I want to thank them for not threatening to move to Canada if they don't get their way in the upcoming elections. And mostly I want to thank them for not invoking any tiered, paranoid rhetoric about needing to be fearful of stormtroopers showing up on our doorsteps in the middle of the night to take away our guns or vaginas or anything else we care about at least as much. I asked them to try to answer on their own behalf as much as possible and not on behalf of the spectrum they represent. I'm sure they all might have strayed a little bit from that edict but that's understandable and perfectly fine.
It's entirely possible that you're cynical too, even if you're passionate about the political process, maybe even to a higher degree than I am or that you want to admit. It's entirely possible you read these interviews and said about one of the people, "that's fine, he/she seems nice, but I assure you that they're the exception, not the rule." If so, I would challenge that assertion by saying that the only reason you know about these people is that you took time to sit down and read the answers they gave in their own words to direct questions. If they were people you saw at the mall wearing a t-shirt or on tv carrying a sign, that wouldn't be the case. I'd also like to point out that these were simply the first volunteers to raise their hand when I sought them out on Twitter and they were not screened in any way. Anybody want to calculate those odds?

Point being, if you took time to sit down and get to know these people as individuals, you might find that there are more exceptions to the rule than you had previously thought. Find somebody to talk to, not yell at. I really don't think you'll have to look that hard. And besides, if your message needs all that volume to be heard, you might want to consider the possibility that your message isn't
all that strong to begin with.

Ultimately, do I want to see a society where we all get along and things function so well that we have time to sit around and braid daisies into each others' hair? Sweet Christ, no! What would be the fun in that?
No, but I do believe (if you'll pardon just a smidge of tired, paranoid rhetoric on my part) that there are those who profit by keeping us ignorant of the fact that ultimately, we have much more in common with each other than not. And if we could keep that in mind and apply that whole "E pluribus unum" credo, we could really get some stuff done that actually improves the quality of our day-to-day life. That's all.

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