I don’t know if this has been going on for years and I was just too caught up in my own shit to notice or if this is really, truly new.
But, as a society, as a country, have was always been this bad at talking to each other? Have we always been so incapable of respectfully disagreeing? Have we always argued so fervently to be right rather than to be understood and to understand?
Because if it’s always been this bad, I hadn’t noticed and I’m glad for that, because now that I have, let me frankly say, it’s really annoying me.
And before you think I’m talking about only about politics here – let me be clear – this is not a blog where I’ll be picking sides and assigning blame. I’m talking about basic human decency here, just regular old everyday manners, just garden-variety being nice stuff.
Not to get all Hufflepuff with it (though,yeah, I’m totally a Hufflepuff) but can’t we all just be nice? Or, well, nicer, at least…
To be clear, I’m not asking for some sort of “everybody hold hands and let’s sing Kumbaya” sort of thing. (For the record, I would never do that because I hate that song and also holding hands.)
I’m just saying, we, (myself included) are probably going to need to practice disagreeing, because if the campaign season taught us anything, it’s that, these are divisive times and well, the issues we disagreed on then are probably not going to go away any time soon.
So maybe we should talk about how we talk about them. (That was sort of meta, but please just go with me here.)
If we don’t want to totally drive each other crazy during the next few years, we’re going to have to learn to respectfully disagree.
We’re going to have to try harder not to jump to conclusions about why people think what they think and do what they do. And instead, we need to simply ask them. Then we need to listen, really listen. Not so we can better counter their argument, but so we can better understand their argument.
It’s going to be hard. But I think it could be worth it, because we could actually end up learning something about each other and maybe ourselves in the process.
I understand I’m sounding very pretentious and self-important here and I’m sorry. I’m not saying I’m good at this stuff myself. I’m not.
I’m stubborn and dramatic and one of the most most irrational and (sometimes surprisingly scary) people you could ever get in a real argument with. But I’m just saying I’m going to work on it. Or at least try to work on it.
And yeah, I’m probably not going to be great at it but I’m gonna give it a shot.
Basically, I’m going to try to learn to disagree with people the way Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson do.
(Don’t be fooled by the photo of Leslie and Ron below. He’s just pretending not to like that hug.)
If these two people (who are on the complete opposite ends of the political spectrum) can not only respect each other but also sort of be best buds, we can all probably manage it too.
P.S. Yes, I know Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson are fictional characters, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all aspire to be as cool as them. Because, damn, they’re cool.
P.P.S. Here’s a video of Ron Swanson, drunk on Snake Juice, dancing. On a loop. Because I think we can all agree this is amazing.