Friday, November 05, 2004

I was thinking about what I wrote last night as I drove in today.
I don't like to say this but I am fighting the same feelings of hate and the desire to stereotype that I find so scary in "the other". I sit at a traffic light behind a car with a Bush Cheney Sticker, or one of the local anti-gay marriage stickers, and I want to slash their tires, scream profanities, ask them why it is ok to sacrifice my children's future to their greed. I recognize this makes me guilty of the very polarization I am so fearful of. I guess part of what I am working on internally, this week, is how to stay open while I acknowledge the real feelings of betrayal and mistrust, how to avoid lumping people into "stupid" and "selfish" and "bigoted" and "mean" and the sorts of labels which create walls. I wonder if the "figuring out what went wrong" is eroding into an exercise in judging other people's values, and if that is not exactly the thing we are accusing "them" of.

See, I am sitting next to a person I have tremendous respect for as I write. He is one of the fifty nine million. He is someone it would be tempting for me to suddenly dismiss now on the basis of a vote in an election. I know this is wrong, I know he is thoughtful, caring, open, intelligent, in fact, not anything like the "Bush supporter" monster I create when I see the sticker on a stranger's car. This is why I am struggling with myself. I need to talk to him. I need to see what his thinking was. I need to ask questions instead of assuming he is irrational or bad.

I'm not looking to find reasons why I should agree with their vote - don't get me wrong. I'm not unsure of my moral stand. I do want to reconnect with the humanity of those who don't believe as I do. It doesn't matter if they are compassionate or caring to me, if I want to get across the gulf I may have to do all the bridge building. I don't like it, but I don't always have a choice. And so far when I reach out and ask with some real desire to understand I am treated with compassion and respect by Bush supporters. So I need to stop demonizing them as a group and start to view each as a full faceted individual again.

(with the exception of a certain California governor who has proven to be a lost cause)

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