December 23, 2020
Dear I Don’t Know Who,
Help, my thoughts are jumbled, and ideas are tumbling around my brain and I think I need to hear some other opinions. Yesterday I had a great idea about celebrating teachers with increased pay and a free day at a spa until I realized the difficulty in finding a source for the funds. Then I had an idea that all elected officials must take a test on what is actually in the Constitution before they take the oath of office when they promise to protect it from “all enemies both foreign and domestic”. Then I thought they also needed to take a test on how our democracy actually works, you know, how elections work, particularly in their state, how a bill proposal turns into law, what exactly is a representative democracy and how the separation of powers, the one defined in the Constitution, is supposed to work. Then I thought, they need to take an additional oath to be truthful and not be a jerk. If they could not pass any of these tests they could not be sworn into office.
But that was yesterday. Today my brain is full of ideas on how we deal with the huge divides in the country. I heard an article about how those who acknowledge that we will have a new administration and those who don’t, can ever live with each other. Should we just accept a bad break-up? Should we look for common interests that may get us to a better place? My inclination is always to find a middle path following the idea that it might not be perfect, but we could live with it.
This reminds me of the story that I think you already know. Our then, seven -year- old was so mad about something that she stormed into her bedroom, slammed the door and cried. I went in to see what could be done to help, and asked the (sensible) question, “how can we make this better?” Her answer was “Do you know what it’s like having a social worker for a mother?” My take -away from that was we needed to allow anger to subside a little before looking for the solution. Allow some time to be angry, without allowing harm to one’s self or to others or to property or to institutions. With school kids it was a simple action of walking down the hall to a more private place, ignoring the poster ripped off the wall in anger but not ignoring throwing the chair or hitting someone. When the person is calmer, past the heat of the intense anger, there would be time for clearer thinking and problem solving.
Could we, as a country, or as individuals, still be in the time of red -hot anger? I think most of us have started thinking more productively about problems and are looking forward to actions to solve those problems, but some people in our country are not there yet and may never be! It’s a terrible thing to write yet it might be true. My most recent idea floating around inside of my skull is a Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. Commissions of this sort have occurred all over the world after the most horrific and destructive periods in many countries’ histories. Maybe we could have one in this country, led by the United Nations or another international body with expertise on conducting something like this. Maybe then we could have the sing-along I envisioned a few weeks ago.
There will still folks who don’t want to stop being mad, think illogically about the past election, won’t ever believe in science and think their “freedom” includes refusing to wear masks in public spaces. It’s not okay but I don’t think logic will ever change their minds and there is no solving problems with people who don’t want a solution.
I just hope there won’t be too many like that.