My mother and I had an actual conversation about politics last night.
We spoke to each other about who we will each be voting for in the presidential race and why. No, it is none of your business who is voting for whom, and it’s not really germane to this post.
Here is what is germane:
- We actually listened to each other.
- no one yelled.
- no one vowed to pray the other around to a right way of thinking.
- no one said anything insulting.
Obviously we are on opposite side of the voting question. Basically if you put us in one car to go to the polls we may as well go shopping, because we cancel each other out.
From a family dynamics perspective this conversation itself was a miracle.
and I’ve been happy about it for a little over 12 hours now.
Neither one of us is overly thrilled with our own choices. Both of us feel we are choosing the lesser of two evils. Even though we disagree about which candidate is the lesser evil. We each acknowledge the flaws in our chosen candidate, but choose to ignore them because we see something bigger and ickier in the other candidate. And we each see the flaws in the other candidate as being too big to ignore.
Our reasons for our choices are basically identical. Reasoned out logically and thoughtfully stated.
But we came to exactly opposite conclusions.
I find that troubling, but not for the reason you may assume.
It is far too easy to think of people who are on the opposite side of the political fence (or any other fence actually) from you as “ravening hordes” “masses of ill-informed cretins” “unthinking persons swept up in a near religious fervor” etc…. but this my own mother. And her mind, though approaching elderly, is pretty dang sharp.
No, I’m not re-thinking my political choice based on her stated position. What I am getting to is this:
We all desperately need to re-think how we paint those who disagree with us.
Life is not about “US vs THEM” I’ve been guilty of this far too often. So, for my own benefit, and perhaps my one or two readers, I’m going to spell it out:
Painting ANY group or person with a broad brush is NEVER going to produce TRUTH.
- women are not all excessively emotional
- black people are not looking for trouble
- gay people are not twisted sickos out to harm kids
- men are not all cheaters
- rich people don’t all spend loads of time and energy avoiding taxes
- poor people are not looking for a handout
- teenagers are not making your life difficult on purpose
- democrats are not trying to destroy this country
- republicans are not trying to destroy this country
If we stopped having such sloppy thinking, a whole lot of the problems of this society would evaporate.
Look at it this way….if you hired a portrait artiste to paint your portrait you would have certain expectations.
They will show up with paints, canvas and brushes. The brushes will be varied in size, but will typically include some small enough to do justice to the details of you.
If instead the artiste shows up with one color and a single large house sized paint roller you would dismiss him, right? He can’t adequately convey the complexity of you using only one color and a paint roller bigger than your head !!!
How would he capture your smile? the light in your eyes when you are about to get creative? the tiny, barely visible scar from that time you and your best friend decided to play super heroes and you learned that you don’t really know how to fly?
Do you see what I’m saying?
If YOU DESERVE to be SEEN IN FULL DETAIL, SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE
So put down the paint rollers people.
Instead, pick up a palate with a full rainbow of colors to work from and for the simple love of accuracy (if nothing higher) please learn to look for the details and use a smaller brush to paint the truth about each individual in your life.
Lets commit to see, and create, works of, Human, Earthly, ART.