“I would argue that when we build ideological bunkers, and we hide out behind them, 9 times out of 10, the only thing I have in common with the people behind those bunkers, is that we all hate the same people.” Brene Brown
The memory of the 21 day shutdown that started in late 1995 and spilled over into 1996 is still as clear as if it happened yesterday. The reason I remember it so well is that my husband Tom was a federal employee, and the financial impacts were beginning to show up under our own roof. Four daughters, college looming over the horizon, a big house with an equally big mortgage, and not nearly the savings put aside that would have been prudent. We stood facing each other in our family room, trying not to let fear and uncertainty get the best of us. Truthfully, we were in much better shape than some, as we had a nice home we could sell if need be, both had great jobs (when allowed to go to work), health insurance, good resumes and experience, no car payments, and were both in good health. Be that as it may, it was still a big, scary deal. Thankfully, eventually, yet another political impasse came to an end.
As I write this, it is day 28 of the current shutdown, with no end in sight. To say that I’m pissed off and worried about the impact this is having on individuals, families, our country, and the world is putting it mildly. I’m ready for cooler, saner, more reasonable heads to prevail, for egos and partisanship to step down, integrity and common sense to step up, and for our elected officials to get on with the business of working for us. All of us. It’s time for them to stop pointing fingers, grandstanding, and placing the blame on somebody else. Perhaps you agree with me.
What we ask of our elected officials we must first ask of ourselves.
I rarely write about political things, and promise to keep that trend, but today, I had to get this off my chest. And I need to read what I am about to write.
They, our elected officials, are no more responsible than we are for the current stalemate, not just of this current shutdown, but in our country as a whole. Politicians didn’t and can’t create the kind of vitriol and divisiveness we are currently experiencing without our permission. We the people, starting with me, are as culpable as anyone.
Every time we blame those on the other side of the political aisle, we increase the ever widening divide.
When our only news sources are those that align with our perspective, we narrow our view and widen the gap.
Standing with only those who agree with us, we lose sight of our common ground.
When we are only in conversation with those who share our views, we miss our larger shared story.
When we talk in terms of them, they, those people, that idiot, elitists, Trump voters, bleeding heart liberals, fill-in-your-own-blanks, any collective goodwill we have is further eroded.
Whether hurling hateful words at the man who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or sticking pins in a voodoo doll of the newly sworn in speaker of the house, we widen the national divide.
We the people are better than this. Or at least we can be.
Instead of criticizing others from afar, let’s have the courage to be the change in our own little neck of the woods, because if it doesn’t start there, it never will.
Thanks for listening.