Reading previous blog posts here on The Splinter Generation I noticed that in the first “welcome” post it says “We also want this blog to start conversations.” So as a new Associate Editor, I wanted to make sure I live up to this specific goal.
I was born in 1978 in the Ozark Mountains. I grew up on a steady diet of movies (my dad’s second job was at a video store), Nintendo (if I was able to bribe my brother for playing time) and if I was lucky enough to stay up, Friday Night Videos. My family went to church, my parents worked hard, and somehow I managed to graduate high school without disappointing much of anyone, except maybe the boyfriends who tried unsuccessfully to have to sex with me.
In college I discovered I was brilliant, just like every other college freshman. I discovered cultural relativism, alcohol, feminism and sex. I argued religion with my parents, I worshiped beer and social statistics, and I held every opinion with the ego and naiveté of most nineteen year olds. In other words, I was a total dumbass. I was drunk on ideas and quite possibly actually drunk. I felt smart, empowered and honestly, superior. I think these are common maladies of college; luckily real “after graduation” life usually serves as a potent antidote.
There is no telling how long I would have remained an opinionated, morally superior boor if I hadn’t fallen in love. And it must have made my parents smile just a bit to discover that I fell in love with a super smart, very conservative cadet attending West Point. But he was totally hot, so give me a break. And he must have thought I was totally hot too because he let me say things in front of him like “Capitalism is unfair and doesn’t work” and he still asked me to marry him. But we were twenty-one and complete idiots.
I could go on and tell you all about our little love story. I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you we divorced. After all, we married so young, we held completely different views of the world and we didn’t even have enough money the first year of marriage to consistently buy beer. Maybe that last part is actually why we survived, one will never know. But we did survive, so far, and we’ll be married twelve years this November. Have we changed? Hell yes! I like to think it is in part because I’m a little more conservative and he is a little more liberal. If nothing else, we are better listeners and that is a beautiful thing.
So how does this lame story start a conversation? It is a little backstory so you understand where I’m coming from when I ask this very simple question to our generation, to you, our readers. When is our generation going to change the tone of the political conversations in this country?
Aren’t you tired of reading article after article that does nothing but lay the blame of our faltering country at the feet of the opposing political party? Valid or not, it is redundant and counterproductive. Aren’t we all tired of the name calling, the bomb throwing, the gotcha moments and the general attitude of us versus them? Exactly where has this gotten us? As if any of us truly believe that all Democrats want to spend the country into Armageddon and that all Republicans want your ailing grandma to die in the street. Maybe you disagree, but I find this type of rhetoric lazy. Sure, people are going to disagree on politics. In fact, we should disagree! Passionate, open-minded disagreement is essential and it has the potential to “produce higher levels of political engagement, tolerance, and compromise among competing viewpoints.” Don’t believe me, read this.
Maybe I’m still naïve, but I believe if more people behaved in politics the way my husband and I behave in our marriage, we might actually get something accomplished.
What do I mean by that statement? I mean in my marriage we show respect for one another, even when we disagree. We have simple rules and a simple understanding of what it means to show respect. We do not view the other as an enemy. We do not name call, we do not give each other ultimatums, we do not bully. We absolutely never condescend. We make the active choice to believe the best in each other, not the worst. This does NOT mean we always come up with a compromise or solution? Or that one of us always manages to sway the others thinking? No way. Hell, a good many times we don’t do much but piss each other off for the day. After all, the answers don’t always lie in the middle! What we do accomplish is an honest conversation that doesn’t include either of us reducing our level of discourse to straw man attacks. Of course, the fact that we have great sex doesn’t hurt our willingness to listen to each other either. But I have a feeling most readers aren’t willing to go that route for the sake of more civilized political debate.
So why don’t we look at what Leah Ward Sears had to say on this subject. “We need to in this country begin again to raise civil discourse to another level. I mean, we shout and scream and yell and get very little accomplished, but you can disagree very much with the next guy and still be friends and acquaintances.”
Our generation is smart enough, talented enough and passionate enough to hijack the runaway train that is our nation’s political commentary and let reason and respect dictate our future course. What do you say?
Also, check out The Moderate Voice. It is an Internet hub for moderates, centrists, and independents and it provides commentary on domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, and right.
If you are interested in participating in the conversation, please check out our new call for interviews: DO Talk to Strangers.
Heather Luby is a girl from the Ozark Mountains that grew up with dreams of writing stories. She is an associate editor in fiction.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);