“The world is waiting for us to see: Are we going to be Greece in two years or are we going to be grownups? And our problem is our political class in this country refuses to take the responsibility and actually maybe lose an election to do the right thing for the country. And we don’t have that leadership. In either party, it’s how do we protect our own? What we ought to be asking is how do we protect our future.” — Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R) on MSNBC’s Morning Joe
We want instant resolution. You give us a tension. We want it to get it over with in 15 minutes. We do it in everything from microcosmic situations to what happened in this country after September 11th, which is one of the great tragedies of our time, not only September 11th but our national response to it. We had an opportunity in the weeks following September 11th to really connect in new ways with the rest of the world, who were showing toward us compassion, which means suffering with.
They were saying today I, too, am an American, despite the fact that they knew more of this kind of suffering than we did. And we had caused some of theirs. Around the world people were saying, “Today I am an American.”
Well, if we had held the tension between that attack, that horrific criminal attack, and this possibility of connecting and deepening compassion, held it not through inaction but through what Bill Coffin called the justice strategy rather than the warfare strategy. If we had done that I think we would have opened a new possibility in American life. But we couldn’t. The 15 minutes elapsed and we had to hit back.
We’ve been thinking for a while now about just how this civility thing might go, and all that thinking has produced some ideas. Just to confuse you, here’s our tickler:
Bring your human brain.
Hold opinion lightly at times.
Eat potato salad, make potato salad.
Recognize horse manure before tracking it.
Find the wedge. Lose the wedge.
Fight like Founding Fathers.
Lose the evil “they.”
Build your vocabulary.
Meet your batty brain.
Be a comparison shopper.
Elevate substance over symbolism.
Err on the side of laughter.
Next week we will jump right in to discussion about bringing your human brain and leaving your lizard brain at home (when you come to the Village Square AND – we might humbly suggest as long as we’re being bossy – when you drive and when you vote).