Monday, September 12, 2016

I Don't Care/I Do Care - What About You?

Things in the news lately that I don't care about:
  • if you stand, sit, put your hand over your heart, or wear your hat during the Pledge of Allegiance. It is not a requirement to do these things to live in the United States, and the day that doing such a thing is a requirement, this will no longer be the United States. Everyone has a constitutional right NOT to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or salute the flag, or sing America the Beautiful. For some religions, saying the pledge is akin to worshipping a false god and their religion forbids it (Jehovah's Witnesses comes to mind). I don't understand why this is a big deal. Actually, I don't understand why it is said before football games and NASCAR races, anyway.
  • if Hillary Clinton had to leave the 9/11 tribute early because she has pneumonia. I wouldn't have even gone, if I had pneumonia.
  • if Donald Trump has multiple ex-wives
  • smart cars
  • Windows 10 upgrades. I have to use it for now, I'm stuck with it, so blah. I don't want to hear anymore about it.
  • football
  • whatever the latest celebrity is doing (BeyoncĂ© apparently let one of her singers "put a ring on it during a concert. Big whoop. It's all over my FB page - how could I miss it?)
  • The Miss America pageant (also all over FB)
  • JonBenet Ramsey (all over TV)
  • what religion anybody is or isn't or wants to be or whatever. It's none of my business.
  • the latest in smart phones

Things I do care about:
  • what's happening in Syria
  • pipeline issues, including locally and those in the Dakatos
  • gun deaths
  • computer hackers messing with the election
  • sugar and other "ingredients" that have helped add to my health concerns
  • energy use
  • climate change
  • the broken health care system
  • clean water
  • food for those who are hungry
  • a better Fourth Estate
  • equality
Yes, I am a bleeding heart liberal - or so some have called me. Or a libtard, as I frequently see conservatives post on FB.

It is my right to have these opinions.

As John F. Kennedy so famously said, ". . . if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

One thing social media has taught me is that many people take every opportunity to name call, to be mean, and to say bad things about someone who disagrees with them. I may even be guilty of this, if only unconsciously. It seems that to be human, we must degrade and downgrade. Dishonor and demean. Deplore and find deplorable anything that frightens us or forces us to question our own opinions and beliefs.

There was a time when folks at a business stood around the water cooler and talked about the same TV shows and the same headline in the daily newspaper or the local TV news. Those days are long gone, replaced instead by bubbles where we all pick and choose what we want depending on our views. We don't challenge ourselves to rethink our positions, to see the other side, to wonder why someone else might think it a good idea to do thus and such when you don't.

Lack of empathy, I've heard it called. An inability to understand how someone else feels.

It has been going on a long time - it started back in the 1980s with late night radio talk shows. I listened to some of them when I was attending college classes at Virginia Western. I'd be driving home on the interstate and I'd tune in to hear whatever. As far back as 1986 there were people on talk radio talking about taking the vote back from women, or allowing only landowners to vote, or only people of a certain color to vote. The hatred and rage seethed on these talk shows.

Generally, I could not listen to them all the way through because they upset me so. How could people want to deny me a basic right - the right to vote? How could someone want to deny anyone who lives in this country the right to vote?

I would come home and tell my husband about the things I heard; he told me to stop listening to those shows.

But I am a news hound, and even today, I read both sides. Do conservatives sway me? Not often - but I can sometimes see their side. Do I think there is a lot of middle ground, if people would only stop talking long enough to listen?

You bet. I think there is a lot of room for middle ground. An entire country's worth of middle ground.

Alas, we're so busy trying to refute an argument that we don't even hear the words anymore.

I wonder what it will take for us to listen.

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