The Day After

Yesterday’s election has left me scatterbrained. I want to say something about it, but I don’t want to argue about it. I start a post about my thoughts then step away and then start another “regular” post. But then I find myself sitting in front of this post again, trying to coherently compose my thoughts. I’ve been doing this all day. I now have at least three not-nearly-complete posts that I may or may not finish or post. And then I have this awesome post with tons of beautiful pictures from our hunting/camping trip during Columbus Day weekend that I just can’t seem to finish until I see to this. So, I’m back to this, again.

I don’t really talk about political issues with anyone except my husband. I don’t like arguing and have never enjoyed debating. While Artie and I don’t agree on every issue and we happen to support different political parties, I enjoy our discussions. Maybe because we’re both non-confrontational, or maybe because we’re married to each other, we don’t necessarily need to change one another’s view on whatever topic we’re discussing. Usually we determine that while we have different opinions and views, we agree on some or many of the finer details of an issue. While I would love for him to change his opinion and totally agree with some of my views, I’m happy that he can see my point-of-view and understand where I’m coming from, even if he doesn’t agree with me. And it’s easy for me to do the same for him.

We like to think that we represent a lot of the U.S. population, that the majority of us falls somewhere in the middle of the great range of political views, as ours do. Scientifically, I can’t say one way or another how it really is, but I think generally most people see themselves as a good representation of the rest of the population. If not, then why do we get so flabbergasted when others don’t see or agree with our point-of-view?

I realize that our opinions are born from our different experiences and backgrounds and that I cannot possibly know or completely understand what it’s like to be someone else. But one of the traits that separates humans from other animals is the ability empathize and I just don’t see much of that lately. Are we really all that different? I realize that times have gotten difficult for many, especially since September 2001 (and some would say earlier or later).  Although our views may not be the same, one of our common traits should be the ability to empathize with each other.

The hate and bitterness expressed between those with different views astonishes me. I’ve seen it in articles, heard it on the radio (and not just talk radio), on Facebook and even in discussion between family members and good friends. During an election year the acrimony increases exponentially. In the past months and especially during the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen gross stereotypes made, nasty insults and half-truths declared in the name of making a point. I don’t watch a lot of t.v., so I’ve missed many of the political ads, but of the ones I’ve seen, it seems as though most use mudslinging rather than building a case for an argument as a means to get a point across. And, I think some of that nastiness has influenced how the general public deals with adversity. Insult the opponent rather than discuss a subject with them. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can say that I’ve never been persuaded to change my mind after being insulted for having a particular opinion.

One thing many of us can agree on is our dissatisfaction with our elected government officials and their inability to come together to get anything done. It seems as though our representatives spend a lot of time pushing the extreme of an argument and not a lot of time compromising. I think it’s safe to say that many are frustrated with our government and how long it takes to get anything done, if anything gets accomplished at all.

But here’s my problem. If we, the citizens of this great country, cannot come together in civilized discourse, if we can’t empathize with one another, if we’re unable to listen to or even understand another’s view without slinging insults or blame, how are we going to be able to elect officials who can break down an issue, agree on some points and agree-to-disagree on others to come to a resolution that will work for the majority of the country? Whether we like it or not, our elected representatives are a mirror of us, the general public. Until we can come together (just half way), I don’t think much will change. Our problems lie deeper than our elected government, they lie with us.

I posted here, on my own blog, a little piece of the Internet I’ve claimed as my own, to express myself rather than Facebook to avoid a big debate. I probably don’t need to say anything since the three of you who regularly read probably won’t get this far once you realize there aren’t any pictures of Amelia. I don’t mind polite conversation and welcome you to comment if you wish.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can post this:

Isn’t it soothing? More to come in the next day or so. Thank you for reading.

-J

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9 thoughts on “The Day After

  1. I read all the way to the end and I just want to say that I am proud to know you: your clarity of thought, your commitment, your wisdom, and your ability to know that love is so much more than political opinions! xo

  2. Very well articulated Jen. I have been thinking the same thing for quite some time. I think we have gotten away from logical discourse, based on fact, and it has disintegrated the ability to get anything done. I try very hard to stay out of the fray and not make my thoughts on the subject known for the very reasons you state. I certainly hope the next generation makes informed decisions based on their beliefs, rather than on the hype they have been fed.

  3. I’ve missed reading works by this author. Well said. Being poised to attack and defend takes less intellectual effort. Let’s hope that things change and people can go back to the basics of talking to each other rather than at each other. Miss you.

  4. Pingback: October « Ashmore Adventures

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