Image: “Join or Die” is a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin. Public Domain.
Tonight I saw this exchange on Twitter, following the Congressional Baseball Game:
And I had an idea:
… we insisted on civil discourse?
…we stopped calling people names?
…we stopped making fun of people’s appearance?
…we insisted on asking genuine questions and listening to the answers?
…we chastised our elected officials when they do not rise to that standard, even if they speak for “our side” in the discussion?
…we sought out common ground, however small, with those with whom we disagree?
…we told our favorite talking heads on TV and radio to tone down the rhetoric?
…we simply blocked bullying voices on social media, denying them an audience?
The challenging part of this is that for it to work, the people who will have to work the hardest at it are those who are accustomed to being heard out, listened to, and respected.
A man is chutzpadik explaining sexism to women. A heterosexual person is chutzpadik trying to explain the challenges of queerness to a bunch of LGBTQA’ers. A person with no disabilities is chutzpadik explaining disability to a disabled person. Those with excellent educations are chutzpadik when they explain economics to persons without a diploma. A white person is chutzpadik pontificating on race to people of color. Even Christians with PhD’s in religion are chutzpadik when they talk about the lived experience of non-Christians (outside the U.S., shift that to whatever the dominant religion happens to be.) A person with the benefits of citizenship is chutzpadik explaining the experience of statelessness or paperlessness to someone who lacks a passport.
Listening is the most radical act of resistance to the forces that want us all at each other’s throats.
Someone’s going to write me and say that:
…it won’t do any good because “they” are so nasty.
…I tried that, and look what I got.
…”they” started “it.”
And I will ask:
Who benefits, when we are fighting among ourselves? There’s the real enemy.