It seems that the world has flipped upside down. What was once the fringe is now the norm and visa versa. Which means that being reasonable and respectful, knowing the difference between facts and spin – even when spin agrees with you, not only disagreeing without being disagreeable but being open to agreeing as well, and not turning every difference of opinion into a volley of insults is the new nuts.
So if this is true I say – Call me crazy and please join me!
We have some very big issues these days. And we need big solutions. Instead we are getting more and more extreme rhetoric, push-button reactivity (that is completely reasonable when we are reacting and completely ridiculous when it is the other side) and stretching the truth to make a pre-determined case.
And sadly no one wants to take ownership for their part in this mess. It’s worse than my kids with their – ‘He started it’! (And as bad as the grown-up logic that gave us the sequels: How Marriages End and How Wars Start)
Look, the truth is that a certain amount of panic is not unreasonable in today’s world. It is a bit of a mess and we should be worried. But the key is to use that fear to fuel smart discussions instead of distracting debates and detracting comments or worse – using a 2nd Amendment solution.
Jared Loughner in Arizona is the most recent example. But the jacked up reaction of some that threw Sarah Palin’s map into the mix is much more a part of the problem than the map itself. In fact does anyone else see the irony in the actions of a man making Congresswoman Giffords a scapegoat for his mental health issues causing some to make Palin’s crosshairs map the scapegoat for our political issues?
Not that I don’t agree that we are living in volatile political times and that the anger that’s out there is not helping us resolve our differences better. But it’s a huge leap to say Ms. Palin’s map – though arguably in bad taste – is even in the top 10 reasons for this tragedy. In fact bringing it up to make a point actually reinforces the very problems we are having and fortifies the divide. Because any Palin fan will dismiss it for what it is – overkill – and not feel obliged to listen to the point behind it. Which is – we need to find better ways of dealing with our nation’s challenges than taking it out on each other.
So let’s not get nuts (I mean the old nuts) because that’s exactly what I’m talking about. When something bad happens we need to respond but let’s keep our wits about us. The trouble with un-contained ratcheting up of the conversation is that it compels us to respond in the instant and it’s almost always overkill!!! (See I could have used a period there but I was ratcheted up!) Slowing down seems counterintuitive. Being calm and reasonable seems crazy and yet this is what is often needed…
As a nation we need to get better at this skill.
Now – you may be saying – It’s not me it’s the other side that needs to hear this. And to that I say – Yes. So if everyone would remember that to someone – YOU are the other side – it would be a great start. Not that that is where we end but how about looking at your own actions and seeing what you can do…
Even with my kids I would say, ‘Even if you didn’t start it – where did you take it from there?’ Because that’s the most important thing now. My vote – a little of the new crazy would be good.