Sandbox Politics and “My Dance Space”

I don’t hate politics.

I do, however, hate politicking.

There are select moments I avoid social media (Facebook in particular) and major elections are at the top of that list, the aftermath of a catastrophic and/or polarizing event is a close second (after that is when I am on a “real’ vacation, which is not germane to the topic of this post at all so let’s just set that aside for now).

The reasons are simple:

  1. If I genuinely like you–and if we are *friends* there is reason for it–I don’t want to risk knowing that your political beliefs are drastically at odds with mine and based on that I may come to see you, perhaps just subtly, as different from before. Even though I don’t mean or want to, its human nature… (or at least it’s MY human nature) to do so. That’s my “sh–” and something I should probably look at a bit more closely.
  2. I’ve always looked at social media like one big dinner party, and I was always told that it’s rude to discuss sex or politics at a party, so that nixes talk of any election―now try to name a catastrophic/polarizing event that didn’t have elements of politics or sex (or both). Right…

But this is different. This is “my dance space” as Johnny Castle would say…

and if you’re here, I’m going to take the assumptive close it’s because you’re curious (maybe even interested) in reading. Hang on a sec…before you rethink that decision, and to be fully transparent, I’m not an expert on politics and I won’t pretend to be. I like who I like and can articulate a rationale but sharing my views will not shed any brilliant new light on the current state of affairs. And I’m certainly not going to say anything that hasn’t already been said, probably much more succinctly and by someone much smarter than me in this regard.

Like almost every other adult, I have watched agape at what has transpired in this country—particularly over the last year—and since silence no longer feels tolerable, I feel reasonably confident commenting in the following way…

When I was younger, I thought unless I was the loudest voice in a dialogue, no one would hear what I had to say. I believed that passion, volume and conviction trumped (pardon the pun) informed, respectful discussions and critical, dignified, conversations.

I don’t think this is uncommon. Walk past any sandbox and you’ll see children shouting over each other to be heard. But many of us outgrow or unlearn the worst of these traits before/by/during early adulthood. Of course we all know or have heard stories about those who don’t. They usually represent people we would never want to sit next to at a dinner party (let alone share a meal with). When we do have to talk to them, we keep conversations to um… local sports, because we can think of almost no other topic that would not run the risk of being offensively politicized to either party (food is out; work is out; family is out; weather is out; news is totally out).  A more complicated situation arises when a company we work with or for, decides to hire them for some reason–one can only assume (hope) he/she knew what to say and how to say it during the screening and interview process.

They are the people whose kids we don’t like our kids to become friends with and try to limit or avoid having play dates in their homes (while we still have control of those things); we may even hold our breath when we see our children entering a sandbox together. These situations give us pause because we are concerned about exposing our children to people and behaviors that we don’t want them to emulate; we want to shield them from traits and characteristics that we know aren’t admirable, inclusive and respectful, perhaps they are even repellant and offensive.

Here’s why it matters…

A few off-handed comments here, some thoughtless remarks (either implicitly or explicitly) there, then using shame to silence as an arguing tactic and we don’t even notice how desensitized we’ve become bullying–giving and/or receiving it.

Condone or even passively overlook carelessness with words and gestures, then we will once again find it acceptable to question the value and contributions of a person from “different” cultures and communities (particularly women).  In short (and this is just an example for illustrative purposes), I don’t want my son to ever take part in or my daughter to be the subject of an open debate about qualifications or aptitude based on gender, sexuality or cultural background.

This isn’t about a candidate, or a party, (as I said, I am not a political expert) and I understand some of this is potentially inflammatory, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. If I did, I apologize, sincerely.

I can boil this all down to two words: WORDS MATTER. They are very, very, very, very, very, very important. They are preserved.

Their message can heal, or do more harm.
They can give us hope or hinder us.
They can be part of a legacy we pass along to our children and their children with pride, or a burden we apologetically hand over hoping they dig us all out someday.

Words outlive us. How do we want to be remembered?


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