The quote above is so at odds with the world we live in at the moment—the world of politics, war, personal anger, animosity and prejudice. If we are to believe our Facebook or Twitter feeds, there is no conversation taking place between the left and the right. We are now watching different television programs, separate radio talk shows, hanging out with people we agree with and cutting others from our lives who don’t agree with our politics or religious ideals. How can we heal the divide?
I wrote in my last posting about my grandfathers who would agree to disagree vehemently and often and then step back into a relationship of respect for each others’ opinions. I see this so rarely now that I think people of reason are going to be declared an endangered species.
Or, is there something we are not seeing? Is it possible that the gargantuan media has divided us for ratings purposes and exaggerated the extent of our split? Are they happy to have their piece of the pie where they can target their listeners for their advertisers? Does the fact that television exploits the most rabid, vulgar, violent and “entertaining” people for the ratings suggest that the great middle—people of contrasting visions and beliefs of what life is—is being ignored? Is there a population once called the silent majority that are not being silent but are being disregarded because we are supposed to be addicted to watching and reading about dysfunction? I know—that’s a lot of questions with no substantive answers.
Early in the political season, all of the media outlets—left and right and semi-middle—showed Donald Trump incessantly, believing that he was a highly entertaining flash-in-the-pan. Once it was established that he actually was going to continue to lead in the early primaries, they were elated that the Trump Circus would go on. The other Republicans have become rhetorically flamboyant as they are told they must one-up The Donald. The result is discordant hyperbole that lowers the level of discourse to a mud wrestling match. Quieter voices disappear into the distance. The odd example is Ben Carson who is certainly much quieter, but his quietude seems to makes his eerie statements even more bizarre. Meanwhile, Hillary has toughened her approach so she doesn’t appear to be “soft”.
Maybe the answer is not in the silent majority but the “quiet” majority. A lot of attention is being paid to the quashing of the introvert in America. Scientists and doctors are sounding the alarm, claiming that we have raised the extrovert status so high that anything that sounds authoritative—also known as bombast—deserves attention. Meanwhile, the quiet, creative, thinking individual is ignored, to the great detriment of our society. Take for example the talking heads of the sports world. The majority of their programs are loud, crude, totally opinionated and leave no room for discussion. The same is true in a huge segment of television news. Women have been required, like Hillary, to put on their “man hats” to earn a place at the table. Being nice doesn’t cut it. What if we found a way to integrate the ideas and creativity of these quiet creatives before we are too late? Or do you think it is already too late?
Like the old story of the Tortise and the Hare, some of us race ahead, thumping our big feet noisily and running over those who came first. Others carry their shell, or home, on their back, settling in for extended periods. They take their time, figure it out, and then finish with results. These people are often the inovators, inventors and leaders of movements. They are not “movers and shakers” but inspirers and creators. It’s time to recognize them for who they are and bring them out of the shadows and back into the spotlight of society. The criteria for a talk show on television, for instance, should be that we learn something by seeing both sides of the picture. Right now, most forums are set up to entertain. News used to be a different track then entertainment, but has now joined the club.
The big question is, are we too late to go back? If so, there may be a way to re-invent. The communication of the world is at stake here. If we are only talking to those who agree with us, through radio, television or magazines, we are not learning or informing. We are nodding our heads in agreement. And what use is that? Of course we will choose to spend more time with those who share our values, but close-mindedness is a surefire way to stop innovation and progress. Only when we look at and listen to those who differ with us can we see the whole lay of the land. I am watching every debate this season, and I will tell you it is very very painful. But as an observer of our culture, I can’t just turn away. We are so far away from the “…walking each other home” point of view. But that is the real Truth. We occupy this planet for a short lifetime, accompanying others on the journey who may or may not be like us. Still, we are walking a similar walk from birth to death, and the screaming and accusing will not smooth the way. Cooperation, listening skills, compassion for our fellows and lots of heart are the only things that will support and sustain us. Can we begin?
By Author Therèse Tappouni
Facebook Pages: Therese Tappouni and The Gifts of Grief