Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been many seasons since my last confession.
Father, I was drawn to the world of reality tv. At first, it seemed so modern and fresh.
I laughed in shock as women with sculpted faces in expensive clothes screamed obscenities at each other and flipped tables. And broken glasses of Pinot Grigio sparkled like the diamonds on their fingers.
I tuned in with anticipation as helicopters and private jets delivered finalists to studios filled with props that branded showmen as adventurers and successful billionaires.
I smugly thought it could do no harm as I watched the aw-shucks shenanigans of quiverful families promoting “god” sanctioned female subservience.
Like the viewers who joined me, my attention fed narcissism, discord, avarice, isolation and hate.
For these and all my media sins, I am truly sorry.
A year of battles and we made some gains. And yet I am awake with that a dread I know so well.
The election had put good people in office and has shown that Americans may be weaning them selves off the quick adrenaline fixes of hate and reactivity.
The novelty of being applauded for being as rude as possible may be fading and what is left is isolation and resentment.
But then again, maybe not.
Addictions are hard to break and hate sends a rush of chemicals to the brain.
Collaboration is slow, painful and requires compromise.
Policy making is thoughtful, difficult and nuanced. Implementation is full of pitfalls. Badly designed processes can destroy the effectiveness of good intended policy. In my private vote as a citizen I voted against a referendum that matches my values because my review of the policy led me to believe that it was poorly written and would have a disastrous implementation. If I was an elected official, I would fail the purity assessment.
The hate and judgment I see is multi-partisan. For me to see it in people who share my values is even worse than to see it in my opponents.
Today I want to be dancing under a bright sun but the clouds loom overhead.
But maybe, if I look very closely, I will see rays shining through the gaps in the darkest cloud.
On – off
For me – against me
Enemy — ally
Binary thinking is essential in acute life and death circumstances where a split second second choice will determine your survival. But it is a detriment to complex and collaborative issues that may very well affect the lives of millions but are nuanced.
The binary sets up anger, judgement, feelings of betrayal. One misstep, one disagreement and the brain must make a decision about which category to place that person. Binary feels safe because it seems clearer. But the clarity of division has significant ramifications.
A full spectrum thinking allows balance. We can see where we are alike and where we are different. We approach each other with curiosity We can say to ourselves and others, “I don’t like where you stand on this but I like you. And I liked where you stand on these other things.”
Curiosity and acceptance of differences allow us to move out of the lizard brain and explore ideas in these situations. It moves us out of reactive into reflective thought
Let’s work together on the good that we agree on and maybe the shared experience will allow us to get closer to agreement on the areas that we disagree about. And if not, we’ll discover other areas of agreement.
A year ago, I considered myself an engaged citizen.
I voted! Almost every election!
(except those little ones that almost no one really cares about.)
(Occasionally. Mostly old clothes.)
I spoke my mind.
(Except when I was worried about offending someone with my liberal views or I was afraid of being shamed, attacked or called ugly names on social media.)
A year ago, I cuddled under the warm protective cover of PantSuit Nation where I shared my views with like minded people.
A year ago, I believed that sexism had been defeated. Funny how I didn’t notice that I was sheltering myself from the very forces that I had imagined vanquished.
Today, I donate to candidates, ACLU, Planned Parenthood.
Today, I speak my mind in the open, never hiding behind anonymous profiles.
Today, I amplify the voices of women and men fighting to defeat bigotry and hate.
Today, I vote in every election because the school board is the nursery for the next group of political leaders and I want to know who is growing and developing.
Next year, I will look at this year and see a stronger voice with a deeper impact.