Sep 28, 2009

Compromise is Old Fashioned

Some of my fondest memories growing up are the discussions held at the Holiday dinner tables. The fun started after the dishes were cleared and the adults were sitting around drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and discussing politics. We had the full political spectrum represented. My father is about as far left as you can get and my grandfather was his polar opposite. Discussions got heated and somebody usually ended up pounding on the table.

I find that now I tend to agree with my father’s way of thinking in most things but I recognize my grandfather’s influence in some of the opinions I have formed. Dad and I sometimes have heated discussions of our own. But I love and respect him even if I don’t agree with everything he says.

The table pounding didn’t alarm me, it fascinated me. It taught me so many important lessons. I learned that often there are no easy answers. I learned that passion about ideas is important. I learned that it’s important to hear both sides of an argument before you make up your mind about something.

I fear that thoughtful consideration of the issues isn't a common practice these days.  Subtleties and nuances are lost.   We want the quick fix and the easy answer.  We've been trained that way by the idiot box.  Everything is about the sound bite and the gotcha.  The shock factor has become the barometer for coverage.  It all gets wrapped up in nice little 60 second packages with enticing graphics and no need for thought.

This is the reason we have become so intolerant.  Opposing points of view are rarely presented side by side in any rational way.  I worry about this country's ability to make good collective decisions.  Common sense flies right out the window because of some poorly chosen words.  Especially if they play upon fear.  Isn't that how George W.  got his second term? 

Have things really changed or was I placing too much faith in the American people all along?


  1. I share your fear. It is hard to hear anything with the extremists on both side yelling so loudly. They hurt my ears and they scare me.

  2. It seems to moi the American people are still pretty good about having the conversation face to face where we can - almost literally - tease out a more reasonable argument and gently nudge the other person into a different perspective.

    That was the best part of the sitting around the table. Or bar. Tempers flare and brains go numb, but there's enough time to re-frame that thing we just said.

  3. WOW, you pretty much said exactly what I think. I was raised by far far left parents, but married someone who thinks more rationally and down the middle. It has trained me to step back and look at an issue, even though I still usually fall to the left I can still at least see both ways.

    You are so right that the idiot box is more persuasive than it should and sadly most Americans can't stand up and intelligently think for themselves.


  4. I often find myself farther left of a position than I actually feel,in an effort to reign in the Rushies I'm forced to endure here in O-Town.
    It does get wearisome,I admit.

  5. You are spot on sadly - its the same here - actually the further left and right you go it all becomes dictatorship - extremes are a worry but passion is good to feel in your beliefs - as well as respect for others points of view except for my brothers in law - they are just stupid - no cure for that

  6. You are sooo right. We need to listen to each other more and discuss, rather than just declare that we're right, and that's it.

    And sound bites suck. So declares Miss Healthypants. *grin*

  7. Mom - Makes you just want to throw up your hands and say, fine, whatever.... just please be quiet.

    Booda - True enough among friends and family... after all we cultivate relationships with people we can interact with reasonably well. Try having a discussion with an acquaintance.

    Kate - You ever watch The Daly Show? The funniest segments are when he replays the "catch phrase" of the day as it's quoted by one TV personality after another in rapid succession. It's like a mantra.

    Sling - I know how you feel. Oh what we wouldn't give for a worthy opponent.

    MC - Your brothers-in-law sound like idiots. Arguing with idiots can be fun sometimes. By the way, mostaccioli is a pasta dish with marinara sauce and cheese.

    MHP - They do suck... spread the word.