So, Ted Kennedy died yesterday. And the whole world is mourning him, it seems. And you're probably totally sick of hearing about it because that's what the media does - run anything like this into the ground until you're so tired of hearing of it you turn off the television, the radio and close the curtains. But, no matter how you feel about his politics, you must be struck by his zeal for his craft. He was dedicated to it. May he Rest In Peace.
(Standing on Soap Box)
As I was listening and watching the remembrances, I was struck by something I'd like to share with you. My accounting of it here won't be eloquent or life changing, but I need to get it off my chest, so here goes. I was struck, my friends, by how shocked and awed the news media sounded when they reported that, while he was very liberal, he had friends on all sides of the political spectrum and he often co-wrote and co-presented legislation from people that were of all sorts of political persuasions.
People, what I have to say is - why is this shocking? In the United States of America? Clearly because it's rare? We are a (representative) DEMOCRACY of people who are supposed to have the freedom to express their views, etc etc. I think it speaks to the current (and for the past several years) political environment - the pundits, the news channels, the talk shows - that beg people to hold radical left or right views and dog anyone who feels differently at every turn.
I'm sorry, just because I may not agree with you, that does not mean, in AMERICA, that I should vilify you, your children, your neighbors and maybe your whole state or that you should do the same to me. It does not mean that I should hate you or you should hate me. It does NOT - I repeat - does NOT certifiably guarantee your stupidity or mine.
We are (supposed to be) a nation of individuals. Of individual freedoms. Of differing views that are all acceptable unless we are harming another. And - truly, truly - my thoughts, or your thoughts, generally speaking - our mainstream thoughts on the right, left or center - they harm no one. They are ours as Americans. They frame this place where we live as unique. And, in my opinion, we should respectfully allow one another the freedom to think differently, vote differently, live differently.
Maybe in this modern age we are overly busy - overly distracted - and are just looking for a way to easily categorize thoughts - people - into buckets. "Good." "Evil." "Right." "Wrong." Maybe it's a mechanism of the times. I don't know.
I am not trying to be a Pollyanna. I am not trying to say, "Why can't we all just get along?" But, I do worry about this notion - this movement, even - of demonizing those with opposing views. Maybe that's why Mr. Kennedy's legislative record and list of friends was so shocking. Because, no matter your politics, out of his flawed human state - you know, the same sort of state which we all find ourselves in - he clearly showed respect and intermittent humility for his fellow man, for his fellow senators, for his fellow humans - more often than not, no matter if he did not agree with their point of view. Or he would not have had their respect.
Respect. For one, believing that person across the table has and deserves the same rights and esteem as you would give yourself. That's what's often missing, IMHO, from the current political climate. From the talk shows and the radio shows and the screaming and yelling and blaming (oh, the blaming-make it stop) and from the interactions between you and I and the stranger next door. And, sister, that's a slippery slope we might be on. A slippery slope.
Perhaps, on this one item, no matter your views or mine, Mr. Ted Kennedy, (there are others just in the Senate that do this, at least at times, on both sides of the aisle - Sen. Lugar, perhaps; Sen. Feingold at times, Sen. McCain, even - but since Mr. Kennedy is/was an icon on the national scene...) in total, could be a good example. No matter your point of view, having respect for your fellow man, showing a little humility, listening to differing points of view, and leaving some space for the fact that it's OK to disagree would be a good use of one's time. In our form of democracy, I believe showing respect might go long way on the path to understanding. I tend to believe choosing not to polarize or politicize or demonize - or proselytize - every point, every day, every moment would be a refreshing change of pace. And good for our country. In this way, I hope the era is not over. Amen.
(Standing down from the Soap Box)
Of course, my friends, please feel free to disagree. See you tomorrow.