Instead of rationally examining a particular issue, today I want to try to explain how I feel by combining common themes from every political discussion I've ever had into one imaginary conversation. It starts with something common sense, such as “look both ways before you cross the street.” It is so common that I think everyone must have heard and accepted it, and it is so sensible that I think that no one could ever legitimately argue against it. Then people do.
Democrat: Looking both ways before crossing the street is ridiculous! The safest thing to do is to cover your eyes and run across as fast as you can; if you can’t see them, they can’t see you.
Republican: Don’t be silly. I’ve seen lots of people who had their eyes closed or were turned away from me. I saw them even if they didn’t see me. The cars can still find you.
Democrat: When I was four and had monsters in my closet, I covered my eyes and they went away. I know because I checked in the morning and they were gone.
Republican: There are no such things as monsters!
Democrat: You have your religion; I have mine. You cannot force your beliefs on me. You’re a racist!
Me: Hold it; you’re both missing the bigger picture. The cars aren’t trying to hit you; they’re trying to avoid you. We want them to see us.
Democrat: Huh? I don’t understand.
Me: Cars go very fast and might not be able to stop in time if you run right in front of them. If you look both ways, you can see when there is a large enough gap in traffic so that you can get out in the road while giving plenty of space for the cars to stop.
Democrat: When is there a gap in traffic? Do they close the roads between 1am and 2am or something?
Me: No. There are gaps all the time. You just have to wait for them.
Democrat: If they happen all the time, you don’t have to wait. You’re stupid.
Me: Look, the important thing is that the cars see you.
Republican: He’s right! We want the cars to see us. That’s why we need to immediately mandate that all people wear heavy neon signs everywhere they go.
Me: Wait, everywhere? I’m not wearing those to bed.
Republican: What if a car hits you while you’re sleeping?
Me: There are no cars in my bedroom.
Republican: There might be. They could be hiding under your carpet or in your refrigerator. Your pillow could be one in disguise. You could be one!
Me: I’m not a car.
Democrat: He’s right! He could be a truck or a motorcycle! You’re a racist!
Republican: They’re all cars to me, and if I see one, I’m going to shoot it.
Me: Whoa! Don’t shoot cars! There are people inside.
Republican: The cars have taken hostages? This is war! We need to bomb their factories, cut off their metal supplies, and take control of all the oil!
Me: War is totally unnecessary here. If you just look both ways…
Democrat: You don’t win wars by fighting! Why not feed the cars? Free food should be a right! You’re a racist!
Me: Cars don’t eat. They only drink gasoline or diesel.
Democrat: Petroleum addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. My mother was addicted to petroleum when she was pregnant with me.
Me: That explains a lot, actually.
Democrat: You’re a racist!
Libertarian: Hello gentlemen, I’m a Libertarian. I’m much smarter than you.
Me: What do you want, Libertarian?
Libertarian: Everyone should be free to cross the street however they choose, eyes open or closed, fast or slow, with or without neon signage.
Me: Hmm, that actually kind of makes sense.
Libertarian: And cars should be free to run anyone over that they want! That’s true freedom.
Me (facepalming): Ugh!
Democrat: You’re a racist!
Republican: I like you, but you can’t possibly win the general election.
Sometimes when tempers flare and hurtful words are exchanged, what people need to hear are words of healing. However, this often makes things worse and makes me wonder if we are actually better off just killing everybody.
Whatever: Sometimes people spout nonsense that needs to be challenged. Other times, nonsense is only an unimportant distraction. I use the term “whatever” to let them know that I am not challenging it and that they may even be right, but that I have something more important to say that I think they will also be interested in. It is a way of avoiding unnecessary conflict. Another way the word is used is to indicate that one is not picky and is perfectly happy with whatever. I use it this way when I am asked which restaurant I want to visit. There are of course derogatory ways to use the word, such as implying that one will not listen to whatever the other is going to say, but this is less common. Once, two of my coworkers were in a conflict. In order to deescalate, one of my coworkers used the term the nice way, but my other coworker took it the mean way. There was no deescalating it after that.
As ready as I’ll ever be: Once a customer came through drive-through, but there seemed to be a little bit of confusion. I tried to coax them to order, but they didn’t seem to realize I was ready to take it. Conflict was brewing and I needed a way to ease their mind and make my intentions clear. Finally, they directly asked me if I was ready to take their order. I replied enthusiastically, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!” I meant that I was so ready (and happy to help them) that it was not possible for one to be more ready – not that I couldn’t be bothered to be any readier. I think they took it the second way.
What is your problem: Another coworker of mine told me about the time he worked at a call center. He helped with troubleshooting and customer service. He would answer the phone with “What seems to be the trouble today?” or “What’s bothering you that I can I help with?” One day, what came out of his mouth was “What is your problem?” It didn’t go over well.
Meaning of meaning: My parents once got into a fight over the meaning of my father’s words to her. My mother eventually realized her mistake and tried to explain what those words meant to her so my father would understand. By using the term “means to me” rather than simply “means,” she was allowing my father to be right. They were words of healing. He would not allow her to use the word “meaning,” claiming that the only meaning a word could have is the one in the dictionary. They continued to argue over the meaning of the word “meaning” for half an hour – far longer than the original argument.
All lives matter: There are those that need to be reminded sometimes that all lives matter. People find it easy to dismiss the needs of the homeless or of convicted felons, blaming them for all of their troubles. Others seem deaf to the troubles of immigrants (legal and illegal) or of the unborn. More recently, there have been blacks, angry about how they have been treated by law enforcement, that have tried to remind us that black lives matter too. Those sympathetic to the cause have offered words of healing, saying essentially, “Of course they do; all lives matter.” The response has been less than welcoming. Those trying to help have been pushed away. Instead of working towards a solution, we are now in a war of words over whether black lives matter or all lives matter, which is silly because all lives necessarily includes black lives. I’m really starting to get upset.
Choose life: There are those that are pro-choice even when the choice is to end life, and there are those that are pro-life even when life can only be saved by eliminating choice. It is a very emotionally-charged subject that needs words of healing more than any other. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work together to save as many lives as possible without ending choice? Wouldn’t it be nice if people chose life? Whether it solves anything materially or not, isn’t it good for the sake of harmony and our well-being to propagate the slogan “choose life?” Pro-life individuals can promote it because as long as they cannot control the choice, they want to encourage others to willingly choose life. Pro-choice individuals can promote it because they want the pro-lifers off their backs so that they can retain choice for the rare, extreme circumstances that a life must be ended. It is a win-win for everybody. Unfortunately, there are those that find such a slogan offensive because it is clearly anti-choice, choice being meaningless if one is not using it to end life. I’ll remember that the next time I’m making a choice. Let’s see, chocolate, strawberry, or kill idiots?
Just a theory: Religion is almost by definition dogmatic, whereas science is supposed to be forever open to inquiry. For several decades now, science has become just as dogmatic as religion. The nutritionists turned against fat too quickly and recommended eating more servings of grains per day than anything else. Only now are they starting to change their minds. Global warming was pushed on us long before all the data were in. Those of differing opinions were ignored, laughed at, and had trouble getting funding. Biological evolution is often taught in such a way that makes it seem unquestionable. Once in a while it is important to remind people that it is a theory – a model that has so far made meaningful predictions but is ultimately unknowable. Creationists would rather discredit it completely, but the kinder ones have taken a moderate approach, reminding us that all scientific models (including creationism) are just theories. With the idea that we have already found an unquestionable truth rejected, we can then have a productive, civil debate on the comparative merits of the theories. These are also words of healing. Strangely, there are supposed scientists that reject the offer and claim evolution to be a fact. Either they don’t understand science, or they are lying in order to cause division and turmoil.
FOX bias: I was once talking with a self-described liberal. He made the claim that FOX News was biased to the point that they were nothing but a propaganda machine for the RNC. My experience had been that FOX was no worse than ABC or CNN. They all show bias sometimes, but still provide real news worth watching. On the other hand, MSNBC truly is not a news organization. It is a propaganda machine not worth watching except to understand what the millions of gullible sheep who watch it are babbling about. I wanted to understand how this liberal came to determine what was and wasn’t a reliable source, hoping to learn something myself as well as possibly introduce some critical thinking where this liberal needed it so that he could eventually reach his own conclusions using sound reasoning. I started by admitting that I had seen examples of bias on FOX, but added that the jury was still out on whether they were completely devoid of value. I moderated my position hoping we could meet in the center. The liberal responded that if the jury was still out for me, than I was completely hopeless and not worth talking to. I had opened my mind up to being shown how bad FOX really was and was ready to learn of possibly better sources. Instead of trying to pull me over to his way of thinking, the liberal shut me out ensuring that we would continue to be enemies. This same guy had told me previously I was some sort of right-wing extremist when I know that I am quite centrist – just ask my Republican friends.
Phil Robertson: Some people are downright mean to homosexuals. Others aren’t. When directly asked what he thought of the subject, Phil gave no opinion of his own but appealed to consensus and authority. He quoted the bible in a country that is over eighty percent Christian. He went further to say that it was God’s job to figure out what to do with them, while his job was simply to love. It was quite possibly the least controversial thing that has ever been said on the subject ever. They were words of healing. Did he win a medal? No, they tried to kick him off his own show. The backlash over his statements were worse than I’ve ever seen for statements others have made that are actually hurtful. Do homosexuals prefer to be insulted? Because if they keep acting the way they’ve been acting, people aren’t going to stop with insults.
When I try to tell people that I misunderstood them, they take it as insulting them that they were not more clear. When I try to tell people they misunderstood me, they take it as insulting them that they are not smart enough to understand the stuff I’m saying. I’m done arguing with you. Next time I will keep my mouth shut and pull out the acid and flamethrowers. Apparently it is the only language you understand. This especially goes for those that will suggest that I’m promoting violence by writing this post. I’m not the one promoting violence – you are! If you mind your own business and shut up you will be left alone. If you attempt to intimidate me, I will torture you in creative ways and leave your body in a public place where it cannot be easily removed, leaving people to scratch their heads trying to figure out how it got up there, where the other pieces are, and why it glows in the dark.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.