I spend way too much of the time that I’m reading the news, perusing social media, and watching folks around me saying, “Hmm.”
I’m a person, far as I can tell. But I feel so different from humans I observe. It’s not new; I’ve felt out of place among humanity most of my life. What feels different to me these days is that I’m having more and more trouble empathizing with people and being able to see where they get their viewpoints. (I realize I’m not alone here!)
For example, I watched the annual State of the Union Address last night, as did many Americans. Some parts of the speech affected my business, some affected the rights of my friends and family, some seemed spot on, while others seemed exaggerated or slanted. I observe political events from my personal perspective, naturally, and I’m aware that my background, upbringing, education, and privilege affect my perceptions. I don’t expect others to feel the same as me.
Still, I found myself inexplicably surprised to read how people I know reacted to the speech. The range was from being thrilled and buoyed up to being angry and derisive. Now, I’ve gone on and on about how I believe we are living in two different countries within one geographic space. But sometimes the extent of the divide shocks me.
I really would like to briefly crawl inside the minds of some of the people I know, so I could see how they came to be a member of the country I don’t live in. I’m convinced they have different truths and facts than I do, and I would love to jump in and learn them, without having to watch certain television networks.
When I’ve tried to talk to people, I get one of two reactions: some declare that they just “know” things in their gut and feel them, facts or no facts; others are able to point to evidence for their beliefs, which tends to be things that people in my country don’t learn about. The latter group help me a lot, but I’m still baffled and hate to be that way.
Here’s where I draw a little comfort. There have been times throughout the history of human cultures where people with very different mindsets have coexisted for long periods of time. They are able to work together, trade with each other, and keep each other safe, all while practicing very different spiritual and political beliefs. I know this has been true. I want this here.
I also have seen how easily these times of peace and coexistence can blow up. Look at the former Yugoslavia, India and Pakistan, Hitler’s reign, Israel, the US in the 1860s… this is what I fear. We are equally divided in this country. I just hope the reasonable majority on both sides keeps us at peace.
On a happier note, I enjoyed yesterday. There was the perfect balance of hard work, exercise, and relaxation. There’s a lot to be said about watching container ships (which are shaped like giant floating bricks), crab boats, kites, and dogs out the window as I ponder project lifecycles. Plus, the birds did not disappoint me, either. Those cedar waxwings are having a great feast on the little fruits of the palmettos.
Plus, Lee made it back to the ranch safely and I found out I’ll have some fun visitors for the next few days. I won’t be meditating solemnly and thinking deep thoughts in the condo alone! I’ll get to do things and meet new people. All I’ll say is that my guests are regular blog readers, who I hope are ready to drive over here and not reading my nonsense.