I have given a great deal of thought to linear thinking lately. Vile posts and conversations have invaded my space. I listened to the rant of an unfeeling Sons of the Confederacy member who believes the virus is a hoax. I have seen posts by well-educated people who are unwilling to recognize history as a fluid experience with learning opportunities rather than as a place we inhabit mentally in perpetuity.
Both parties have people who, although not at the fringes, are incapable of expanding their world view. Single-mindedness or linear thinking is another way of renaming lack of empathy and bigotry. I do not believe many of these people behaving in bigoted ways are aware of their harm to others. I also believe most would claim to be without prejudice. Linear thinking is not given to self-examination, but is generous with the judgment of others.
I believe there is room for compromise for the sake of peace and, most importantly, for the sake of justice.
Compromise 1: Wear masks. The people who want to open everything up get their way. Those of us who want to be protected from the virus get our way. Win. Win.
Compromise 2: Relocate the monuments. Living in Texas magnifies all symbols of personal independence. The questions are: When the symbols of independence and freedom were erected, were they meant to only allow freedom to whites? Were they meant to intimidate people of color? Are these symbols of oppression more important than the living people whose souls shrink in their shadows? Are the monuments representative of who we are today? Do the monuments keep us stuck in the painful past? My compromise: Put the monuments in Confederate cemeteries or in museums. Raise a statue of a man reading to his child in front of the local library. Put a quote in front of the courthouse, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but for both. Eleanor Roosevelt.” In front of the schools erect monuments that inspire achievement – scientists, artists, John McCain (one of my more recent political heroes).
If we do not learn to compromise, we will lose our country. The question for us all is whether being right is worth sacrificing our democracy. Let’s get real and do the hard work of learning to get along. Regardless how we may want to win all the marbles, our children may lose everything if we plant our feet in the past and refuse to move forward.
Stating the obvious: the past is behind us and the future is our gift to the next generation. What are we creating in the now?