|Hang on, Slim, there might be a baby in that bathwater
||[Nov. 8th, 2016|04:42 pm]
So, in the aftermath of the election, there are going to be a lot of really upset people; people who are concerned that they're embarking on four years of hell, in danger of losing everything that they consider the best of the United States.
And if you're on the winning side, you probably think they're idiots. If you're on the losing side, you probably think the people who voted for the winning candidate are idiots.
Here's the thing though: most of them really aren't.
The other day I was listening to the radio and one of the on-air personalities (I'm old enough to still think of them as DJ's, although that's something completely different...remember that, children, when I'm in the Home and trying to communicate through the curtains of dementia) was talking about how that morning, one of her dogs got loose while on her morning walk and ran out into traffic. And there she was, freaking out on the side of the road, trying to figure out how to get the dog back, how to get the traffic to stop, while still maintaining control of the other dog.
And a bunch of people, about ten, she said, on their way to work, stopped their cars, got out, stopped traffic, corralled her dog and got the animal safely back to her. By the time she'd fixed the dog's collar and gathered her wits about her, everyone had gotten back into their cars and driven off. You know, they had places to go and had done their Good Samaritan bit and were on their way.
Now, I can guarantee you that some of those people were Clinton supporters. Some of them were Trump supporters. (There's a possibility that there was a Johnson or Stein supporter as well, but let's not stretch statistics too far on this one.) And maybe they all had different motivations -- cared about the young woman freaking out on the side of the road, cared about the dog, were worried that the damn dog would cause an accident and foul up traffic -- but they were all motivated to help make the world just a little bit better.
I just did our big Halloween event, where the houses on our street decorate and host thousands of trick or treaters. Every house spends money, time and effort on decorations, spends about $150-$200 on candy to give away. And I can guarantee you that some of them are Clinton supporters, some Trump supporters, and yes, in this case, I'm not stretching statistics, there's at least one Stein supporter. But on the days leading up to Halloween, that night, the next day cleaning up...each of them pitched in to make the world just a little bit better for a bunch of kids and their parents.
Each of us fears that we'll lose something that we value in this election - rights, a way of life, freedoms, progress, whatever. And you think the other person is completely wrongheaded about it. I get that.
But let's remember to separate the IDEAS from the PERSON. Politics aside, you may well have a lot of things in common...your humanity and your desire to have a better world. Understand that fear does indeed make us stupid -- that it's easy for wrongheaded, stupid ideas to lodge in a brain. That social media, regular media are all doing their best to froth up that fear...make us more stupid...corral us into us and them, making each of us feel victimized...making us gullible and accepting of bullshit. And if you think only the OTHER side believes some bullshit...if you think only the other side is capable of believing some stupid shit...well, I hate to tell you this, but you're wrong. And you KNOW that, deep in the cockles of your wrinkled little brain.
Critical thinking is all well and good on a frictionless surface...sitting around the table, glass of bourbon in your hand, free of fear (wait, that might just be me, the bourbon, fine, imagine your own damn prop) with plenty of breathing room and headspace.
But it's a hell of a lot harder when you're scared and when people are pumping out all sorts of lies and fake news and you've now defriended or been defriended by people who believe differently from you, so you just hear the same bullshit over and over again, surrounded by people who agree with you, search engines now editing your information to help support your current beliefs even more, rarely showing you the opposite viewpoint, a whole goddamn cycle of supporting and perpetuating the ideas you already have.
Now, I get it -- you want to, and you have a certain right to, protect yourself from people who are dangerous to you, hurtful to you. I'm aware that in this case, I'm rocking some serious privilege -- white, middle-aged, tough and to a certain extent, a little bit inurement to misogyny. And there are indeed awful people on both sides of this particular fence...and over there, standing in the Johnson/Stein/Write-In/Whateveruselessprotestyou'remaking paddock. And yes, someone who's motivated by hate? Expletive them. Belligerent assholes? I'll do what I can, but you shouldn't feel badly about distancing yourself.
But remember that a lot of THEM are very, very much like you -- just wanting it all to be better. Heck, if it weren't for social media, you probably would have spent the rest of your life being friends with them and might not ever have noticed that they had some ideas diametrically opposed to your own. And you can be all "oh, man, I never knew that person was such a raging asshole" now that you've seen their twitter/facebook posts. Although you could be thinking "huh, we've been friends for years and worked on all sorts of stuff together but NOW I HATE THEM." Newsflash: That last one? You're thinking that? You might be a belligerent asshole yourself.
You want to get those wrong-headed ideas out of their head? Calling them an idiot is not going to do it. Separate ideas from the person; they're not necessarily the same thing. Recognize their humanity, figure out what you do have in common, try working side by side on less contentious things...you're far more likely to get them to move to your side of the fence than if you just build that fence higher and cover it with barbed wire.
Or you could shove them all away, let them be surrounded by people who think just like them, a social circle filled with people who hold the exact same stupid ideas/beliefs and they can spend the next four years reinforcing all of the bullshit and we can go through this again.