I’d love to be all “live and let live” and everything. Really, I would. It’d be so nice if I could just relax and listen to what everybody has to say, politely, you know? I’d nod and say, ‘Yeah, I can see how that might be beneficial, but I just see it a little differently.” And then I’d explain my position, and whoever I was talking with would politely listen and nod and say the same thing.
Then we’d keep talking, together, and we’d come up with the perfect solution. The one that benefits everyone, that makes everybody happy, or at least doesn’t dump anybody out on the streets with nothing more than the shirts on their backs and no way to get off the streets.
Ah, but such are the stuff that pipe dreams are made of. In case your not familiar with the origins of the phrase “pipe dreams,” let me tell you where it comes from. Nineteenth century opium smokers. Yep. They smoked opium in pipes and had fantastical, elaborate, utopian dreams.
The divide here in America is too wide, too deep. I do believe there are some people who haven’t fallen to one side or the other, though. They’re down at one end or the other of the chasm, the edges where the rift hasn’t widened to a split impossible to bridge. They haven’t been forced to make a choice, and they could still make one freely. But only if they have all the facts, the unadorned facts.
Not the Nazi this or the socialist that. Not the job-killing that or the treasonous this. Just. The. Simple. Truth.
All the shouting we all do over the Great Divide is wasted energy, wasted time. The difficulty, of course, is that the ravine is getting longer, harder to reach the edges, the ends. Yet reach them we must.
It’s our only hope.
The problem with that is determining when engaging with those who disagree is useless and when it’s filled with that hope and promise. It ain’t easy. And it’s not for everybody. Sometimes it’s not even for me.
It’s also fun to have an intelligent debate with other intelligent people, whether they agree or not. People who think for themselves. People who are willing to consider that they might be wrong.
I do. Consider that I might be wrong, I mean. Every day. “What if I’m wrong?” I ask myself that question every day. The answer? If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and go on. But there are some things I know, beyond any doubt, that I am right about.
I know that gay and lesbian people deserve all the same rights and privileges — including marriage — that straight people already have.
I know that corporations are not people.
I know that our government is corrupt, and that big business is its corrupter.
I know that the Tea Party is deluded, that most of its members have no clue what the founding of America was about or what the constitution actually says.
I know that the Religious Right is also deluded, and that most of its members have no clue about the origins of their religion, what their most sacred documents say or the history of those documents and their religion.
I know there is truth to that saying that if we don’t remember our history we are doomed to repeat it.
I know that guns can’t kill people without help from other people.
I know that the wealthiest country in the world can easily afford to feed, clothe, house and heal its citizens.
I know that education is the key to freedom, and that this country’s politicians work as hard at destroying education as they do at re-election.
I know that the “education” most children receive at home is substandard and nothing more than a reiteration of the falsehoods and misbeliefs of the parents.
I know that all humans are made of the same stuff and that discrimination and bigotry are archaic ways of being that have no place in the world today. They are relics of our prehistoric past.
I know that all of this will change and that it’s up to us whether that change is a well-ordered one or simply catastrophic. And I know we have little time to make that decision.
I know that short-sighted people, those who think only of how any given action will affect themselves, will always drag the discourse down. Too many short-sighted people will stop growth altogether until it’s forced upon us.
I know it seems to be the hardest thing in the world to think outside oneself, to consider the greater good. I also know in truth, it’s the easiest. It takes far much more difficult work to continually enrich oneself, not to mention what it does to one’s soul (if one believes in such things).
And I know that our purpose on this planet is to leave it better than we found it, to leave our relationships stronger than we found them, to leave all living creatures more alive than we found them, and that anything less is … well, it’s just wrong.
Things I’m not so sure of? How to do it all and not fall victim to arrogance or conceit.
Oh, and something else I know. I know we must have fun wherever possible, and laugh. A lot.