Messages That Matter
Like religion, education, and vocation, my political views were shaped, markedly, by the influence of my parents and grandparents. My parents weren’t showy about their politics, but they were never shy about their respect for our country and its system of government.
Growing up, I queried them repeatedly about their voting choices and party affiliations. On one occasion, one of them had to stop and think about party affiliation, and if I recall correctly, the other parent was not only amused, but surprised by the eventual answer.
They died relatively young, so it’s up to my flawed memory and a fairly creative mind to recreate this scene. I imagine the slightly embarrassed smile from the one who had to think which party to name. I see a raised eyebrow of surprise and a teasing smile from the other that communicated: “Yes, we’ll be chatting about this later.”
Now, there was no more simpatico couple than my folks. Sure, they had differing opinions from time to time, but there was an overriding theme to their views: that of common sense. So profoundly were they attached to this principle, the question of political party was secondary.
Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I wish I lived in a country where the lines between political parties continued to be so innocuous. Were that the case, I’m convinced we would return, or possibly arrive, to the primacy of common sense.
Common sense means I can be concerned with national security, debt and deficit without being labeled a soulless, capitalistic pig.
Common sense means I can maintain that it is reasonable and necessary for the most wealthy nation on the planet to provide a short-term safety net for citizens in crisis without being shouted down as a bleeding heart socialist who only wants to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.”
Common sense knows that “immigration reform” doesn’t automatically mean “amnesty” any more than objecting to an amendment outlawing abortion means that partial-birth abortion is moral.
Common sense tells me that it is confounding to a spiritually searching world for a church to defy one rule of manmade law while simultaneously demanding protection under another. (A blog post for another day: Does a firm stand of commitment mean anything if it comes without consequences or even objection?)
Common sense today will fight, even unto death, for the equality of opportunity for every American while refusing to be held captive, ashamed and forever apologetic for the sins of long-dead ancestors that can never be undone.
Instead of destroying statues to deeply flawed–sometimes to the point of atrocity–individuals of the past, common sense can relocate them to museums and private venues while raising monuments on public grounds to people who exemplify more closely “the better angels of our nature”* and our country. Common sense says a people who subtract history rather than expand it and give it context are human ostriches–heads in the sand with exposed backsides ready for the kicking, or worse.
Yep, I could go on.
But in our 140-character, bumper sticker, manifesto-on-a-business card, QR-coded society, there’s no room to maneuver. There’s no thoughtful, nuanced position.
That’s why, in this writer’s opinion, there never seems to be enough outrage when politicians, pundits and so-called celebrities say persons of a certain color, religion, tax bracket or sexual identification must affiliate with a certain party.
To that I concur with several of these sentiments from MASH’s Col. Sherman Potter.
It’s “us” against “them,” and “they” have the deck stacked–even though the definition of those pronouns might change hourly.
What once was praised as prudence, caution, and intelligence is now tossed aside as spinelessness and ambivalence. Make no mistake, there are times when lines must be drawn, and my folks knew and practiced this, but are we now a nation so eager to polarize we will be unable to unite when the time comes?
Will there ever be a Party of Common Sense?
Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I miss my parents.