Monday, May 02, 2011

Yet, we still despise one another

I wanted my first sentence of this post to be:

I hate the party system.

Yet, it's not just the party system. As humans, we migrate to those most like us. It is one of the ways we find normalcy and comfort. Yet, then there are those who play upon that and use it to their advantage in building their "side." Most people are easily drawn into this without even knowing it's happening.

I speak from experience. I battle it every single day. We all look for connection ... our tribe ... our peeps. It isn't just Republicans and Democrats. It is one football team against another. It is those who live in the country against those who live in town. It is the Drama Department against the Athletic Department. It is one side of the street against the other. It is the boys against the girls.

I did not expect the nation to be united upon hearing the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I was not even united in my own heart. My feelings still shift and change. Yet, what truly grieved me last night (and continues to this morning) was to watch all of us fall right back into the same pattern.

Here is what I hate about divisiveness, and what I see in our party system. Here is why I want to say, "I hate the party system":

It functions best (in our favor) when we despise the other side. Period.

When we are working to choose a candidate for our party's ticket, each person is meticulously severed and destroyed. The best way to get people to vote for your person is to make sure they absolutely loathe the other person. It's fact. Just talking about strengths is not enough to win an election. We must destroy the other person.

Then, by the time a presidential election rolls around, we have to work night-and-day to change the reactions of those who now dry heave at the mention of the name on the party's ticket. We can't undo and erase our saturation of slander, so we use the same process to go after the person running for the other party. It is ugly. It is destructive. Many times it is outright false. It leaves us completely and utterly divided. This, then, trickles down to our decision making, our relationships and our public and private conversations. We have no more common ground.

Over the weekend, I posted a talk by Kathryn Shulz. She hurt me deeply with some of the things she said - because she shone a massive spotlight on how my natural instincts can be ... wrong ... hurtful. She talks about our belief that we are right, and how we then try to explain why others disagree with us. Shulz exposes (SPOTLIGHT) how most of use a "series of unfortunate assumptions" to do this:

1. The Ignorance Assumption. We assume they don't have access to the same information we do, but if they did, SURELY we would agree. When we then discover that, in fact, they DO have the same information, we move to the second assumption.

2. The Idiocy Assumption. We have to think that they have all the information they need, but must be too stupid to figure out what is right. Yet, sometimes this involves people we know and we can't ignore the fact that we believe some of these people actually have a reasonable degree of intelligence. So, we then move along to a third assumption to solidify our rightness.

3. The Evil Assumption. "They know they truth, and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes."

I don't know the solution. I don't actually believe there is one. We will always be human. I guess I am hoping, praying, wishing, yearning that more of us would work harder to fight against these natural tendencies. I'm willing to keep trying. I believe that would make a dent. I really do.

"This is a catastrophe. This attachment to our own rightness keeps us from preventing mistakes when we absolutely need to, and causes us to treat each other terribly." - Kathryn Shulz

(photo by B S K, used with permission)


Country mom said...

I blogged about this myself during election season. Back then my facebook was filled with people posting about how whichever candidate they were not voting for was either stupid, evil or both. I had to sit my children down and explain to them that none of the candidates were stupid, in fact all had college degrees and had been fairly successful in life. I also pointed out that none of them were evil, and in fact each had done at least one good thing and each had some good ideas and each probably felt they were honestly going to do a good job. The fact that we disagree with someone does not make the evil or stupid. As an example, last week my beautiful, smart 6th grade daughter was upset about something. I held her in my arms and we talked it out. Towards the end of our talk I noticed some candy on the counter (My dh brings me chocolate whenever my radlet has an out of control day) so I offered her a piece. My beautiful, intelligent daughter said, "Mom, chocolate doesn't always help." OK so to me this is a blasphemous thought. This child, whose favorite food is salad, has a different opinion than I do. I am sure she got it from her father or from her Russian first parents. However, this does not make her stupid or evil. In fact I may even have to admit she is probably smarter than her chocolate addicted mother. She also knows that in spite of my poor nutritional choices I am also neither stupid nor evil. Though my fashion sense causes her to question my taste at times, and the therapeutic methods I resort to with her little brother cause her to question my sanity, she knows that different opinions are OK.

happygirl said...

And even though some may be stuck at assumption 1 or 2, we still have a peaceful exchange of authority every 4 or 8 years. No army storming the Capitol, no rioting in the streets. A peaceful change of power. This is what I love about our country.

Billy said...

Thanks for this amongst the rest of what's being said. You rock.

Jenn said...

"Not even united in my own heart." Yes. This is exactly how I feel today. Thanks for saying it.

Patty said...

Thank you for saying this so beautifully, Christine. There has to be a way to jump off the "blame and defame" ride that we seem to be on in our political system. I don't know what it is, either, but I am glad to hear someone else talk about how this is not what we want.

Btw, my key word is mooma.

Lisa said...

I keep going over the series of unfortunate assumptions in my head, too. Pondering them, digesting them... Letting them teach me a little humility.

the wrath of khandrea said...

i was discouraged but not surprised to see how political the whole bin laden thing became. fighting over which party gets the most credit... and what i want to scream is MY HUSBAND IS ON A PLANE TO AFGHANISTAN. AGAIN. HOW ABOUT IF WE JUST THANK HIM AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO REALLY DID WHAT ALL YOU POLITICIANS ARE TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR??

i've not been on facebook all that long, but i'm thining that come election time, i may just log off. my brain already hurts.