Road Trip Rumblings-On Politics, Kindness
By Ken DeLaat
Ah yes, a road trip.
Periodically the open road calls and more often than not these days it involves a venture west to visit 75% of the most intelligent, good looking, personable and downright likeable grandchildren to be found on the planet.
The other 25% in the form of Ms. Harper, the quintessential two year old lives much closer and thus has ample time to be spoiled by her doting grandmother. Quintan, Izzabella and Parker on the other hand reside in Wyoming (state not GR suburb) so while visits are less frequent they entail the bonus of being bookended by a couple of days winding our way across...
...the Great Plains in search of adventures and orphaned footwear found along the countless arteries that make up the infrastructure of our nation.
As mentioned before, Ms. Lil the long suffering and ever patient Lifetime Spousal Companion has reached a point in our time together (43 years this week) where her ability to share in my enthusiasm for these lone shoe discoveries has waned considerably. Given this and the desire to perhaps reach 44 years, I’ve taken to making mental notes rather than imparting this information verbally. Particularly if she is at a crucial point in her knitting or (even worse) nodding off for a short respite.
This expedition has us taking a southerly route with a stopover in Nebraska to visit said LSC’s sister and husband so rambling through Illinois and Iowa where the green of summer corn has evolved into browned fields of stalks in various stages of being combined left ample time for pondering while perusing the landscape.
We’ve stayed away from mentioning the presidential race in our pages because…. well..... I guess because there really doesn’t seem to be anything left to say. Personally there has been but two times I found myself drifting from my usual resolve to keep my opinions off fb. Once, when a current candidate was compared to Lincoln since regardless of who you might hate the least neither inspires any association to Abe on his worst days and once when sharing the image of a totally red circle with the caption indicating the percentage of any post ever changing anyone’s mind as being in blue, and thus, zero.
I remain disheartened at seeing how the emotional fabric of our country has been torn so drastically. There are plenty of theories about why this has happened. The so-called Left blames the so-called Right and vice versa of course, but it feels like something deeper than just the usual playground retorts regarding whose fault it might be. What has concerned me the most is the absolute dearth of civility sprung forth by this election cycle.
I don’t mean the candidates. Given those we so often are presented with as choices and the nature of the cesspool of politics I am not surprised and even expect the nonsense they spew.
I’m speaking of the everyday folks we all know and care for and regard as friends or at the very least gracious acquaintances. There’s no longer room for “I guess we just don’t agree on this”. It has devolved into “You must be a total moron (and in some cases communist or fascist) if you are voting that way”.
We have been knifed in half by the obvious shortcomings of the two candidates and the ludicrous, self serving, fuel-to-the-fire, vitriolic bashing of the other side by both rather pathetic versions of the current political parties.
Don’t get me wrong, my expectations of those who run for office are extremely high and as I have said in these pages before, I certainly make no apology for that. The reality of what I end up with consistently has and more than likely will continue to fall far short of those expectations and I begrudgingly accept that as inevitable.
However with regard to my friends, my acquaintances and the people I interact with on a day to day basis?
My expectations begin and end with an aspiration for kindness to reign. That despite differences in who we want to have in the White House and which party we want to be in charge of preserving said party’s power in DC and Lansing (instead of any true governing I must add) that we can co-exist on a plain of politeness and affability.
Regardless of any hyperbole you may have swallowed about the ways in which these elections will influence our lives, nothing trumps our friendships, our families, and even those other less close, but nearly as vital, connections and contacts we interact with in our real, everyday lives.
So please folks, let’s lighten up for a bit. You’re not at this point going to change anyone’s vote and there will be plenty of time to dwell on any of the apocalyptic scenarios being currently touted should they come to pass.
Try taking a break from it all and begin seeing beyond the ongoing nonsense and social media frenzy that has begun to define who we are to each other. We cannot apparently come up with better candidates, but we certainly can refuse to become their surrogates in promoting even further hostility-laced divisiveness.
I truly believe we’re better than that. We can adjust to whoever gets into the catbird seats of political power but we cannot in any way hope for anything better out of our politicians until we become better ourselves.
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” –Henry James
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