You Big Bully!

I watched the debate. The thing that got me was not the lack of linguistic acumen; or the missing inspirational innovation; not even the absence of elegance in thought exchange. The thing that got me was the furious see-sawing back and forth of high-level conclusions – like a power struggle between two children.  “Yes. No. Mine. Mine. No I did not.  Yes, you did. Not true.”  We seemed low on Presidential gravitas this week.  And for this we streamed on Twitter?

I am in a belief and hope slump.  Dialogue seems to be becoming an ancient art form, replaced by large scale ram battering.  As if the ram-ier the message, the louder it’s heard.   I suspect the reverse truth could create riches: the more nuanced the message, the clearer it’s understood.

But who am I to say? I certainly could never be a career politician or a real estate tycoon.  I wouldn’t even know what it takes to grow one.  Except that I raise a child, work in a company, volunteer at foundations, where we try hard to talk about what is really there; to make decisions that will have impact on someone’s life – in a good way. We make an effort to tolerate the discomfort of disagreeing for the sake of a higher good we outlined together. If we can try to do it with our limited resources, why can’t they, with the leadership of the free world at their feet?

And let’s just say it, the last few weeks have been tough already – violence and brutality – eerily connected to skin color. Where I get lost is that I think of race as a dumb luck thing.  It’s like our given names, completely out of our control. We first receive it without negotiation or even a conscious awareness.  So how do we get to assuming it has any other meaning than the one meaning it actually has – gradations of pigment?  It’s the translations we make, slinging those high level conclusions; we give meaning to things that have none in their purest form.  Low listening.  High yelling.  Make dumb choices.  Like skin color being made synonymous with character.  I am sad and baffled.

So we see these two Presidential Candidates mud throwing big, hot pancakes of nothingness at each other, trying to one-up and win. There is no dialogue, and so there is no understanding, and therefore the future path is pond-bottom murky. So things may fall apart.  Look at Brad and Angelina or Eat-Pray-Love-Committed-oops- Divorced- Elizabeth Gilbert coupling up with her best friend, leaving her perfect husband in the dust.  This may seem like People Magazine noise not world news, but I can’t discern that much difference.  Both sets of people live their lives in public, preaching their gospel as the way forward.  Seems like the same drama to me – all character, no plot, clumsy dialogue.  I sit waiting for something recognizable to happen, something human I can identify as a shared experience, like from daily life, like a thing that makes or breaks my mood and the mood of those around me.

I used to have a beacon before I hit this slump. Her name was Meredith Grey from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy.   She was all “dark and twisty,” and gave me hope that we could allow for real-life mess, for no resolution, at the end of 60 minutes. But now, her creator has gone off and written a book called, The Year of Yes.  The deep-in-the-dirt realism was swapped out for the fake impracticality of perfection.   And so the bullies keep yelling, “It is my turn now!” Even in the face of the base-i-est of bases, the cruelest of conclusions, they push and pull, toppling each other to leave only one victor.  It may be time for a time-out for all.  Take a moment. Calm down. Learn to use our words.

©Gabriella Strecker

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