Cut and Paste Lives


If you follow politics at all you know Virginia is one of those red states that is sometimes blue, and looking to be purple.  Today, I added purple to my hair. I live in Virginia where the election rhetoric and hyperbole has exceeded even my low expectations. My eye twitches every time there is a commercial for a politician. I swore I wasn’t going to write about it or comment on it, but I can’t seem to help myself. The lies and truths have become interchangeable, or indistinguishable, and the voters are the ones who are punished. The same political ads using the same arguments are running daily here, and thank goodness I have a dvr and can fast forward through them all. Sometimes I listen to politicians and wonder where they learned how to sway people to their side?  Or, maybe that’s not a skill they have?

A lot of people are usually too busy, or too lazy, to drill down and determine the truth of a political statement. I can tell because rather than do their own homework, people plagiarize and post identical words about the same issue. It seems it must be easier to cut and paste then get to the truth. Aren’t they just repeating someone else’s words when they do that vs. forming their own opinions?

I am a person who tries very hard to respect the opinion of others. I recognize we all come with unique life experiences, and that’s what shapes our ideals. I can’t tell someone they are wrong for believing in things that are anathema to me; they came to their beliefs on a different path. But if someone can’t determine if the facts are real, why bother to hold an “opinion”?

My father and I had wildly opposite political views. He was conservative, I was liberal. As a child I would be grounded for wearing a peace sign anywhere. Now I proudly wear one every day, without fail. It’s a daily conscious decision to put one on and know I am ardently opposed to war. When I entered my teen years, he realized he couldn’t sway me. It was a tie. Through the many arguments my dad and I had, some quite powerful, the end was always the same, we agreed to disagree. Was this because we were related? Not bloody likely, that’s never held much sway with me. It’s because my essential self recognized he would never be swayed based on anything I said so why destroy the fragile peace? And if I was relentless, was that disrespecting his experiences?

I’ve always liked this characteristic of mine, agreeing to disagree, knowing it allows me to have a varied group of friends with divergent opinions and outlooks. And diverse my friends are. I have one friend who has been called evil by another set of friends; I have one friend that used the word stupid to describe another friend who is both an attorney, and a senator; I have friends who call another set of friends bleeding hearts that are tearing the country apart. It is never dull.

These disparaging remarks about my friends demand a response and always includes words of defense…in a nice way. The senator who is an attorney is in no way stupid, and as I told my friend who said she was, “She is a friend of mine, I disagree with her all the time so please disagree if you want, but do so based on facts or opinion, name-calling doesn’t further your argument, especially when it simply isn’t true. And since you haven’t met her, why would you use that word? Simply because your politics are different?” She called me the next day to thank me for calling her out and said I was right, name-calling was beneath her and she apologized for doing so when talking about my friend. It was a splendid moment for both of us. And, the person who was called evil would drop everything to come help me, all I need to do is ask. Where is the evil in that?

What we fail to recognize when we discount the opinions of others is they have different life experiences. When we cut and paste our opinions, we do a disservice to everyone. As a young man I know said today, he wants to be friends with Republicans, and he should. Imagine how dull life would be if everyone came down on the same side of every issue? That is not my idea of Utopia.

What we need to do is stop being a cut and paste society and develop our own opinions.  We can then compromise on the most important things in life. Our politicians would like us to follow like sheep but where’s the fun in that?

Peace.

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