Can't we all just get along?
By POOR WILLIAM
Wow! What a week it has been for Facebook pontificators, polarizing politicians, and armchair pundits: Bibi Netanyahu’s speech to the house about Iran, the Selma commemorative march, Hillary’s emails or the lack thereof, Ferguson closure to some degree, and ISIS, always ISIS.
I will not review or opine on the above-mentioned events for several reasons: 1. I ain’ smart enough 2. I am too rabid 3. It won’t solve a damn thing 4. I ain’ got but a couple friends and I keep them because my low state makes them feel pretty good about their existence, and 5. Like my occasional political sparring partner, S.X. Ramone, wisely states when drawn into an undesirable argument, “Not gonna bite!” Meaning? I am not going to be drug into this one!
Those who bite get bitten, and I’ll be damn if my hunger to posit my brand of logic among those with antithetical views doesn’t get my old conservative, white, longhaired, hypocritical, Coca-Cola Bohemian ass gnawed on when I get to sharing my long-held Judeo-Christian beliefs belied only by my carnal, not-esteeming-others-more-highly-than-myself behavior. Whew, think I got it all in!
Facebook and other forms of social and instantaneous media have changed how we communicate and relate to others and how we interact with ideas and dissimilar viewpoints. We share our thoughts, whims, successes, frustrations, prayer requests, happy and sad moments, pictures we find funny, inspiring, meaningful, atrocious, and we post articles and opinions designed to bolster our own presuppositions and judgments among those who adhere to our beliefs and those who don’t! The “don’ts” are where the rub comes in!
Most Facebookers, I assume, do not have a homogenous list of Facebook friends. Therefore, Facebook rants will rile. Period. The modern day snub is to block or unfriend anyone with whom we have a serious disagreement. Sad. Yet I have done it before.
Politics is “the art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.” But, in practice, it is ugly, consuming, and always about power.
While science, medicine, art, poetry, architecture, chess, space, sports, number theory, and all things hard and beautiful promise purity, elegance and sometimes even transcendence, they are fundamentally subordinate. In the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics. Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything…you can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933.
The often heard “religion and politics should never be discussed in polite company” doesn’t play any smoother in Peoria than it does in the Deep South, or anywhere. Our religious beliefs or the lack thereof and our worldviews do and should affect how we approach life and our interaction with others. Maybe the correct dispensation for our beliefs and sensibilities rests in when, where, how, and why we share them. Facebook may be the most efficient, wide-ranging delivery vehicle for our individual and collective regurgitations, but is it prudent, edifying, instructive, life changing, and effective to do so? Probably not, yet we continue…
I have lived many lives in many places and have rolled in many diametrically opposing ways, which does not make me a very reliable source of wisdom and continuity, but all those experiences along with a deterministic upbringing, inherent insecurities, a past wanderlust, too many bruises, guilt over past actions, and concerns for the future coupled with long-held, immutable Judeo-Christian beliefs compel me at times to share on Facebook something I deem important, yet potentially divisive. But, who defines importance, and does it really matter if it is important?
I will go for months at a time and not share any articles regarding politics, the antics of our adversarial bicameral legislature or ever-expanding executive branch, but then something gets my proverbial “goat,” and I go there, usually sad I did.
My marvelous muse Magical Madge often reminds me that no two people are alike, meaning we will hold many dissimilar views, and that is okay. The old axiom about agreeing to disagree agreeably is a fine plumbline for discourse, but it ain’ always easy, yet it matters.
Being on the outskirts of polite society in the Mississippi Delta and a loose member of the avant-garde, local creative economy places this old, longhaired, conservative Christian squarely in the middle of no-man’s land. I am too “out there” for the status quo with whom I share many deeply entrenched conservative views, and too conservative for the truly “out there” creative, real Bohemians who share their art, music, knowledge, and love of aesthetics with locals and tourists from all over the world.
This does not make me more unique than anybody else; it just speaks to the uniqueness of everyone. I have many blues friends who are as liberal as the day is long and many who are to the right of Attila the Hun. That’s okay! That’s good! Most of us have learned not to talk politics and religion, and many of us have an unstated, unregulated, never-questioned détente allowing us to remain friends and to focus on our shared commonalities, which are more significant than our differences.
We may see evidence of our differences shared on each other’s FACEBOOK pages, but we do not engage in an arena we know will produce unfruitful dialogue. I like this! This means we care about each other more than we do most of our beliefs.
Madge’s father had five principles he assiduously reminded her about life and things that matter: Love God, Love others, seek the Truth, be patient, and life ain’ fair. These five pillars of “right living” I would do well to remember every time I open my mouth, grab a pen or open the FACEBOOK app.
For those I have offended on Facebook, please forgive me, for those I will offend, please forgive me, and Lord help me to love others and to esteem them and their opinions at least as highly as I do my own. I’ve got a long way to go! pw