The call began without a “Hello, it’s been too long, “ or “Happy New Year, how have you been?”

No, my ultra-conservative and life-long Republican friend simply greeted me with,

“How’s it feel to be right?”

He was referring to my long held mistrust (for 25+ years) of and complete lack of belief in the moral or ethical character of my Nation’s elected leader in the highest office. He offered a nostalgic homily of how he felt this guy was to be the “savior” (yes, that word was actually used) of the conservative movement. My response…

“Other than his own histrionic spiels, what EVER made you think he represented any form of conservative principle, AND, what qualities of a ‘savior’ did you see?”

He shifted the conversation to our times playing baseball and how he feels 80’s music is the best ever.

I couldn’t let it go.

I don’t know that I’m right at all. I know how I felt then and now about the person and his capacity to lead from a place of humanity or policy or principle. I never wanted our elected leader to fail. I take no satisfaction in watching a necessary and long-overdue exit. I simply breathe better and hope those stepping in will have the necessary character and resilience to lead a country whose diversity can and should coexist and heal from this political apartheid. I do have a competitive streak; those who know me well know that I love to compete. But winning always meant someone was losing. And, for whatever reason, I don’t like that as much. Yes, I was actually one of those parents who supported “participation trophies.” I hated little kids feeling like they lost the joy of play when others gloated in their victory. I wonder if that was the beginning of my move to left-of-center :).

“You see, I don’t want to be ‘right’ about this or about him.”

I love this country. I so love the theory of democracy. And like all theories, they are meant to be proven. In these last months, and I would suggest that over the last several years, the theories of both a Republic and a Democracy have gone through social scientific method rigor and have been failing. And, for some…for many… the dogmas of autocracy and socialism and other forms have been uttered as preference through actions and rhetoric. The reality, at least to me, is that conservatives do not prefer nor do they want to entertain the thought of an autocracy. They are just led by one who sees that as a sanctioned and destined position and have been more afraid of him than tethered to principle. And very few liberals want socialism. There are simply those whose concept of public ownership (a Republic) fights with our other treasured feature of capitalism. It is a worthy tension. And, if dialogue is good and hearts are less about self than about the whole, then we can collectively be a better society—through democracy.

Whew! I just wore my own damn self out with all of that. Crazy what happens with the ink flows and the paper is blank and the heart and the mind are going through a contemplative Ninja Bullet. I digress.

What has happened over the late days of the last year and during these first days of the new year has made me sick. Truly sick. In this last year we have seen the ravages of a pandemic; we’ve seen social injustice at its most transparent (and necessary) exposure; we have seen movements celebrated or excoriated based on their fit with one’s own sense of morality or value systems; we’ve seen the muted prejudices and bigotry of a large (sadly) base flamed and encouraged in rhetoric or inaction; and we’ve seen division like never before along fictitious lines with titles that have lost a bit (or a lot) of their original franchises of Democrat or Republican.

And with all of that, we are still here. We will grow from this if we are capable of listening and talking and learning from sources other than Twitter or talking heads with personal or ad-based agendas. Our system of government and our purer intentions for society over self may be truly resurrected. Our media will remain biased and, as long as we know that, we will seek many sources for what is our truth and our better path. We will love our families and our friends. We will defend against evil—after trying to understand and face what “evil” means (within and outside). We will hopefully find that prospering as a country and as individuals does not have to come at the sacrifice of decency, integrity, honesty, and humanity. And there will be wine. And music — including the 80’s.

Yes, I am advocating for the proverbial, and elusive, Win-Win.

Sean

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