Cartier: Degree and perspective
I can sense that this will be one of those columns where friends ask, why write something that is likely to piss off everyone? I suppose my answer will be the same — it’s to counter the impression that political parties promote, and media exaggerates, that this country is hugely divided. They are wrong.
In discussions about any issue, it’s always a matter of degree and perspective. Whether it’s about the economy, social issues, security, or any number of headline events. Listening to cable news and party rhetoric, you’d think that everything was yes or no, with no variances between. That is simply unrealistic and untrue.
Our country is united over 90% of the time, with variance by issue … the media gets advertising dollars and political parties get their own elected, by exaggerating the remaining 10%. The United States of America is more united than any of them would have you believe.
Diversity is in our DNA and that includes opinion; but so is unity. Our Declaration of Independence states it clearly, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
We are unique in our creed of equality, and while not perfect, we never cease in reaching for what other nations consider to be the impossible.
How do we know this to be true? Just look around you. Your friends, family, neighbors, communities, all unified in purpose, respect and compassion. Even when in the heat of an argument, we remember what connects us: our humanity.
None of us are perfect, yet it is that imperfection that makes us so interesting, which drives our sense of innovation, what makes us strive to do more and become more. We feel a need to develop our talents and use them to improve conditions in the world, so that we may leave it better than when we arrived. We have within us something known as The American Spirit. It transcends race, culture, religion, gender, and all of those other things they’d like to believe separates us.
If in doubt, outside of cable news and political opponents, who do you see fighting about these issues? While we tend to take one view or another, with varying degrees of commitment, some issues are quite flexible, others, we hold adamantly, and there are exceptions to nearly everything, under certain circumstances. Yet, we are keenly aware that none of us know everything. There may be facts, history, or even perspectives, to which we are unaware. It’s a matter of degree.
It takes a strong person to admit that they may have learned something new in a discussion and to say, “I’m no longer certain of my opinion; let me research and think about it and let’s take this up again a bit later.” We have come to understand that in a hugely diverse population, there will be many, sometimes conflicting opinions, and rather than consider it a weakness, understand that it is the backbone of our nation and the foundation of creative solutions. Innovation was born of disagreement and dissatisfaction.
Every major societal issue has degrees of acceptability; perspectives are essential in a highly diverse environment that values acceptance and tolerance. How do we come to terms with the juxtapose position that we often face? When we get past our initial reaction, we may discover that we do make a few exceptions to our firmly held beliefs.
We won’t destroy another’s property, yet if their young toddler crawled into a hot car and was unable to get out, we wouldn’t hesitate to break a window to save them.
The point is, even our most firmly-held beliefs have exceptions. It’s called reality. We live in a pragmatic world, driven by theory but executed by emotion. Emotions change depending on the degree and perspective.
While our caring is not finite, our finances are. In our personal lives, we’d love to contribute to every charitable cause, yet there are limitations to our resources in both time and money. Yet, that doesn’t mean we do nothing, but it must be measured, or we will soon find ourselves on the receiving line of needing assistance.
Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.