Reflecting Presidentially

7 Jul

Empathy, and the capacity to be silent and introspective,  strike me as such  difficult, but desirable, qualities! I  wonder, often,  how  we, as a nation, and a world,  might value, develop, and use them more than we do and, especially,  how our presidential candidates, and members of the House and Senate, might learn to value and use them.   It keeps me awake at night.

It’s a  pity we can’t just run down to the nearest Fred Meyer when we feel our supply is running low, and pick up at least a month’s supply.  Seems like it would be so nice to have a little extra on hand, especially during an election year, but, you know, after that would be good too–and before that. From early childhood on, actually.

Just think how wonderful parents would feel if their two-year-olds could see and feel eye to eye with them . “Are you feeling bad today, Mom?” the two-year-old could ask. “You look sad. Did DAD do something that upset you?  Did I?  I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

“Gosh, Dad. It must be hard, arguing with Mom , just when you thought everything was going so well. Golly. I’m sorry you have so much pressure on you. Everything seems to come at once, doesn’t it–and at the worst of times.”

Mature at two. It would make parents’ job of child-raising so much easier. They wouldn’t have to yell and hit and frown and carry on day after day as if having children had all been a terrible mistake. They wouldn’t have to make their kids feel that they should never have been born. They could somehow  work day and night and pay their bills and go on vacations when they wish and  indulge themselves and feel good about their lives and get rid of drug abuse, and gun abuse, and make the world safe  and end automobile accidents, and  congested freeways and poverty and  disease, and. . . .

Think of what a difference it would make, when the Presidential election comes around. Voters all across the country– Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Socialists, leftover Attila the Huns, Tea-Partyists,  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists– regardless of the color on their outside , regardless of their sexual orientation or any other orientation–regardless of their tax bracket and every other bracket–could , well, take several deep breaths and , you know,  access their left and right brains simultaneously for a sustained period of time. A year would be good. Four years. A lifetime. Even a month would  be fantastic.

We could all , presto–develop the fine art of dialogue just in the nick of time–come up with a few ground rules (transform public education, while we’re at it, and national television,  even NPR, and Twitter, and). It’s asking quite a bit of us, uh, adults, isn’t it!

Ground rules: One person at a time. Thank you. Reduce the volume. Adjust the tone.  Breathe from the abdomen with your eyes shut–a hundred times.  Stand an arm’s length away from each other. Imagine that the other has just finished a thirty-mile swim through shark-infested waters and survived. Imagine something humane, anyway. Imagine along with  John Lennon for a second or two.   Recall some of the worst times in your own life. Feel some of your regrets. Recall a blessing or two or a hundred that you have received, that you could not have achieved by yourself. Look  through all your memories for  some act of kindness you yourself performed in the past, linger over it for at least a minute.

Then ask yourself which of your many ages seemed most wise, and thoughtful, and courageous.

And, before you speak, go there.


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