“What if I told you that the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird?”
Originally derived from the physical seating arrangement of politicians during the French Revolution, the terms “right wing” and “left wing” are continued staples used to label (or separate) two of the most prominent political parties in the United States today. Especially after a major election, the resulting discord (a.k.a. dumpster fire) created by varying beliefs is fundamentally prevalent and vehemently fought over in every country throughout the world. Based upon the past weeks' turn of events, our America the Beautiful is no exception to that rule, either.
As a Lake of the Ozarks’ northern-transplant-turned-permanent-resident, I’ve watched as friends and family from “back home” and “down here” posted at odds with each another for months. I can’t win for losing with masks or lack thereof and with only red or blue options available at the polling place, don’t even ask me which color pen I grabbed on election Tuesday. Forget #Sharpiegate, try achieving any semblance of anonymity while voting with one of those suckers in your hand.
It’s rather ironic how we humans tend to divide things that cannot universally exist without a counterpart, such as left and right-brained dominance, determining whether we are right or left handed at the youngest age possible, and defining our individual political ideologies as wholly one-sided. Some of you would make phenomenal NASCAR drivers.
“Oh, they’re making another left turn!”
Most days, I try my hardest to see the very best in my fellow human beings — and in myself. Some days, though, that’s a really hard thing to do, and I’ll find myself wondering if we’ve all just peaked at birth. As elected officials demand the world or promise us the moon, it becomes so easy to fall into a rabbit hole of opposing political opinions, conspiracy theories, antagonistic animosity, and widespread anger/fear/frustration/disbelief/insert your noun of choice here. We then redirect the latter toward anyone whose worldviews, life experiences, religious beliefs, regional influences, or subsequent daily realities differ from our own. At least we’re saving money on Christmas presents, right?
In all seriousness, it’s exhausting just thinking about it, let alone writing about it. So why do we do it? Why am I doing it, literally, right now? I mean, did we even vote if we didn’t post about it on social media? Does our candidate really even win if we haven’t forced our undying support down everyone else’s throats? I cannot name one individual who has changed my political beliefs based upon their own, and you probably can’t either.
“You get a snooze, and you get a snooze, and you get a snooze…”
Someone posed the relevant question: if we’re going to have a really old president, why couldn’t it have been Betty White? I could get on board with and vote for that type of unending alert notification, Mark Z. Forget Facebook or Parler, back to carrier pigeons and chiseled rocks we go.
Alas, I digress. I have come to theorize that there will always be at least one million pieces of ill-perceived muck in the punchbowl of mankind delight, because everyone’s punch preference will invariably differ. Oh, you like Fruity Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch? Well, I’m allergic to states that don’t continentally connect, so you’re going to have to settle for this Blue Ocean Water Punch. You’re allergic to Swedish fish, gummy sharks and the color blue? Let’s give it about four more years and the Kool-Aid crew will come back with the same two options. Repeat until we’re dead. The end.
You don’t have to agree with me on this and you probably won’t, but I see a weightless release and a clever escape in those who are willing to commune with both party’s plights, or to ignore the all-consuming madness that our nation has temporarily succumbed to. I see something surprising and rare in those who are willing to see these politicians, with their endless quips and tireless rhetoric, for exactly what they are, which is momentary and inherently flawed.
You’re voting for the policies and not the individual — I get it. You’re voting on behalf of a deep-rooted moral compass that dwells deeply within your heart and seeks to safeguard basic civil liberties, the protection of life, progress for the oppressed, and etcetera. I hear you. That’s why I vote, too.
But what if every possible combination of our well-intended beliefs were somehow derived from a place that means well and lies within us all; unspoken or muted in some areas, and louder in others, maybe? What if the back-and-forth give and take of going from one extreme to another in a period of four years is similar to how one parent picks up the slack of the other, because opposites do attract and the country, I mean kids, probably need that. Like our right and left brains and hands, one side might come more naturally to us and dominate the other, but that doesn’t mean that everyone thinks or writes that way.
“Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past – let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” — John F. Kennedy.
I guess what I really wanted to say is this: if the 2020 presidential election has felt like we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back, remember that we need both of our feet to walk. If you are beyond frustrated right now, let’s make something good come from that feeling by supporting our Lake Area churches, charities, small businesses, and neighbors. If you are beyond relieved right now, let’s carry that feeling over by doing the same. Collectively, we are better together. After all, the color intermediate between red and blue can be beautiful, too.