ON SEEING BOTH SIDES
Facebook – what can I say? I love it and I hate it. I love it because it keeps me in touch with what is going on in the world. I hate it because it keeps me in touch with what is going on in the world. Comments, mostly from strangers, I read a lot of them. I read them until I can’t stand it any longer. Does each of us know exactly what is right? Our side, and only our side? Abortion, gun control, politics. So many sanctimonious posts and re-posts, always of sites and data that support our specific beliefs, regardless of authenticity or truthiness. And, oh, how we like to make fun of anyone who disagrees with us. Ridicule, mockery, caricature, satire, irony, and invective, we gleefully type, look, laugh, and share, all the while congratulating ourselves for upholding the moral imperative. How stupid are those who do not see this and who do not join our bandwagon of ridicule for the other guy? Just ask us and we’ll devise an image to tell you.
What is it that makes us feel better, more informed, more liberal, more conservative, more, more, more, when we denigrate those who think differently from us? Dr. Seuss, where are you when we need you? We are the star-bellied Sneetches, sure that our mark shows us as smarter, holier, always on the side of righteousness. And I’m right there, shaking my head, laughing at the ignorance of those who disagree with me. Even in this post.
Sometimes, when I read those comments, I am taken aback. Vitriol, hatred, contempt, maliciousness (I have now run out of synonyms) that transcend the bounds of decency, even when those on “my side” are the ones posting. And I think of my morning Buddhist readings….”but maybe I’m wrong,” they say. Just “maybe I’m wrong.” Who would we be without our Sneetch stars? Do you think, just maybe, we could be wrong?
Suppose that, for a day, for an hour, when we are in high dudgeon about an issue where we are sure that only we, and those who agree with us, have the answer for, we stopped, took a breath and saw the issue from the point of view of another. We may not change our minds; chances are that we won’t. But considering, respecting, that opinion, and that person, might just lead to an authentic connection, a real communication, some actual dialogue, and perhaps the realization of a third, more efficacious solution. Holding two opposing opinions, sitting with them, and thinking, respecting, and talking, caring. Recognizing that we are, after all, connected.
But then, maybe I’m wrong.