Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Apologize in Advance

I don’t think many people hear themselves from outside themselves.


I speak of politics. Of course. Sadly, of course. I am a former junkie trying not to relapse. You see, this is the first big election with social media in full bloom. I read a lot of posts. Your posts? Some are fine. Engaging and educating, even. Others …


Our voices are so beautiful reverberating inside the chamber of our skulls.


I want to comment on a lot of political posts/tweets/whatevers. I don’t do so because what I want more is to avoid avoidable arguments. But, were I a man more comfortable with confrontation, I’d say: Do you realize how snotty you sound? Yes. Snotty is the word here. Dismissive. Obstinately certain of one’s own bearings. Snotty.


My voice, in particular, is very rich as it vibrates around the meat of my brain. You should hear it. A gorgeous thing.


Just because you (and by you, I don’t mean you) find it immensely easy to choose a candidate—and just because you find it even easier to label the other candidate as grossly unacceptable—doesn’t mean I do (although, I do this particular time, but this isn’t about me … much … yet). What I mean is: you make it sound like anyone who disagrees with you is clearly ignorant and quite possibly malicious in their intent. And this achieves what? A sense of self-righteousness? A flurry of Likes?


I always have perfect pitch when the noise remains contained within me.


Let me avoid equivocation: neither candidate is an ogre and neither candidate’s election will bring about doom. Real change—and, yes, real hope—exists far outside the office of the presidency. If you are prone to follow politics like people follow sports—if you root for the failure of the “other” side and celebrate the success of “your” side regardless of how those successes came to be—you’re doing exactly what the parties want you to do. They want you to be tribalized. They want your face painted and your shirt stripped off. They want you rejoicing whenever a guy from the other team breaks his leg and booing loudly whenever the guy from the other team does well. This is the way they make sure they can always count not only your vote, but on your willingness to repeat their talking points and cheer them on publically, year after year. This is the way they ensure they never have to do much other than make sure you still dislike the other guys.


Yes, my voice is a powerful thing when I hear it, alone. Damn, it sounds righteous.


I’m blue with this argument. I’ve made it for so long I wonder if I’m just a contrarian at this point. A friend recently called me hyper-sensitive to partisanship. I am. It’s true. I don’t like what it does to otherwise brilliant, loving people. I don’t like that when I sit at a bar and talk to you, you’re completely reasonable about every issue. But then you go post things online that are full of partisan talking points. And are snotty. So snotty that I know anyone of a different opinion is going to dismiss you outright. This isn’t a small thing. We are this nation. We form parties. We elect our government. If we allow a few powerbrokers to direct our emotions and opinions, we, all of us, lose. Dialogue is silenced. Entrenched powers remain entrenched.


Oh, I’m singing now. I am Pavarotti inside this skull.


I guarantee none of us agrees completely with the other. I support gay marriage and I support the rights of the Second Amendment. I support unions and I’m not a big fan of the healthcare bill. I support the privatization of Social Security (insert a thousand caveats here) and I support the trust-busting of our nation’s largest banks. I think the far left has a disturbing habit of moral equivocation that paints America as far, far worse than it is, and I think the far-right is willfully and dangerously ignorant about economics and science. Anyone agree with me 100%? I’d be very surprised.


Boom. Boom. High note. Boom.


We should all have principles. But we don’t need parties. What we need is intellectual curiosity. What we need is a willingness to seek out those things that bind us rather than carelessly making statements that do nothing but divide us. Leave the tribalism for sports. This is our government. This is serious shit. Don’t let the parties direct how we, the people, interact with one another. We don’t need them. They need us. And we can tell them both to go to hell if we have the will to do so.


And now it’s quiet in hear. Just a ringing. Faint and fading.