- Holding Hands Across the World, courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert.
- barb wire silhouette, courtesy of Leo Valen.
Differences of Opinion
We are, as a species, more the same than we used to believe.
All the blue-eyed people in the world have a common ancestor because, 6 to 10 thousand years ago, somebody's mutated gene produced the first blue-eyed human in a brown-eyed world a freak. Yet that person survived to have children.
We are, as a species, more different from one another than we're comfortable with. We cling to those differences; they define us.
Making a Difference
It's so easy to be cynical about the process, as it tests the candidates' resilience under long hours, bad food, personal hazing, constant travel, frustration and exhaustion in which so little meaning can be conveyed. At the same time, the voters contend with boredom, confusion, hope, and disgust.
But I still vote. I still want to "make a difference." I still believe that there are better and worse outcomes of elections. I've voted for a few people whose work since then I respect. And certainly I've voted against some who seemed truly crazy.
Have our Differences
By the time I was growing up, the state line divided a Republican Kansas from a Democratic Missouri, and other than the political parties and sports teams, the biggest contrast was that booze was a lot cheaper in "wet" Missouri than in "dry" Kansas. There were plaques and the odd cannon in the city's parks. As a Kansas City girl I once wrote, "This is the way the world heals / picnicking on battlefields."
Where I work, we deal with this covering-over of conflict all the time. Whether the contest is about projects, football teams, or elections, we have to "cultivate nonattachment." We have to put up with the fact that we disagree fundamentally, maybe even desperately when it comes to politics or religion or promotion, and yet once the crisis is past, we all still have to work together. We change spouses, houses, churches, friends, parties, just about anything, because of irreconcilable differences, but we generally make ourselves get along at work.
In a couple of weeks, I'll get up at the crack of dawn to vote in the primary, and even so, I'll get to work a little late. I'll swap stories about the wait with the woman in the next cubicle, whose vote always cancels mine out, who always votes the way her husband tells her to, because he listens to the radio more than she does. And if my back hurts from standing so long in line, she'll bring me coffee when she goes to get her own.