Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Daring to Disagree, Debating with Delight
Well, another voting day in America draws to a close. In a few short hours, even the polls on the west coast will lock their doors, and the ballots cast will be counted. Every state, every community, has faced different issues. Each region’s ballot is distinct. Some states’ residents were choosing governors. Many had to decide how to spend their tax monies. Others were deciding social and moral issues. Still more had new laws to vote for--or against, or already existing edicts to repeal--or not.
It is, in my opinion, the gravest responsibility for each citizen--this opportunity to have a say in how our homeland is governed, how our money is managed, and what our society is like. We have a duty to make each individual voice count. People have died, and are dying, to preserve the right for each single man and woman to have a say.
But as serious as this responsibility is, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it! I am a girl (oh, fine! A woman! Sheesh…) who loves to have a good time. I like to debate--politely and respectfully, of course—on pertinent issues that affect our lives. I absolutely LOVE to engage in an intelligent discussion when all parties are not in agreement. That is, I believe, one of the biggest privileges we Americans can lay claim to. We can disagree without suffering a parting of ways. We can speak in comfort, and listen with deference. We can completely oppose our friends’ views, our family’s, our neighbors’, and—most times—we are still welcomed into the fold. Because we’re equals, you see. We each have one vote. And if we don’t like the way one of our compatriots is going to cast his ballot, we have this wonderful opportunity to hurry to the polls and cancel it out!
I’ve had several conversations today with loved ones whose views on certain issues were contrary to mine. From my own perspective, I think that is GREAT. I love the fact that we don’t all agree. We are each products of different things…our upbringing, our experiences and our relationships all mold us into the adults we are, today. And no doubt, we will be different adults when the next election day rolls around. That’s the nature of this beast called ‘life’.
One gentleman—loved, respected and more aggravating than any one gentleman has the right to be--took an oppositional stance to how I intended to vote today on Question Five on our Maine Ballot. Question Five reads thus: Do you want to change medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?
I told this gent that I had it in mind to vote ‘yes’.
Jumping Joints, Jehosophat! You would have thought I’d just smuggled in a pound of pot and hidden it in his humidor! It was like I’d suddenly become the plague! He visibly shied away from me, and his face grew dark with color. His eyebrows disappeared under the brim of his Cabella’s cap, and his lips formed into an expression of disgust that was half-sneer, and half snarl.
‘What the hell’s happened to YOU???’
Good question, that. What HAS happened to me?
Well, for one thing, I’ve realized the value of listening. I’ve discovered that very few things are black and white. That there are plusses and minuses in most equations, and a bit of positive and negative in each charged issue. Most fundamental, is this truth:
I am sometimes WRONG.
And even though this wonderful guy taking umbrage at my voting intention is several years my senior, he hasn’t yet reached that state of enlightenment. This fellow, believe it or not, is ALWAYS right! Every single time! Without fail! Even when he’s WRONG, it’s because someone else screwed up…and if they hadn’t, he would have been proven--once again--to be the undefeated champion of the positively precise, always accurate, totally true and completely correct!
Have I mentioned that he is one of the very few people on this earth who has the power to make me steam? Cause me to want to pull my hair out? Generate the desire to shriek and rend my clothes?
Ah, but that was ‘back in the day’. Not so, anymore. Because I’m an adult, now. I’m mature. I’m mellow. I’m unflappable…
Consecrated Clips, Cannibas! He drives me NUTS!!!
What this esteemed chap immediately assumed was that I’d gone over to the dark side. That I’d defected. Tossed aside all good common sense, all moral standing. That I was now of a mind to promote and encourage the illicit use of drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, hashish…you name it. Laxatives, diet pills, caffeine. I was going to vote ‘yes’ and send America to the dogs. Not only that, he informed me with conviction, but if I ever, EVER wrote publicly that I was going to vote in favor of this Citizen’s Initiative, I could kiss my writing career goodbye. I’d be done. Washed up. Old hat. The scourge of the literary world, and a disappointment to my fans.
And nothing I could say would change his mind.
He didn’t want to hear my reasoned opinions. Wasn’t going to listen to my claims. Didn’t care that I’d done research, read articles, given the matter much time and attention. Couldn’t care less that I’d agonized over my decision. He took no notice of my views regarding the irrational fear of this natural remedy, or why it should be treated like any other medicine made available to the ill or suffering. He wasn’t interested in my hope that, by legalizing the herb and making its prescribed use controlled, its currently mostly-unimpeded cultivation might actually decrease. I certainly am NOT in favor of any drug use that is not prescribed by a qualified expert for a viable health issue. But I could not convince this certain male of that. Nuh-uh. No way, no how. I have fallen from grace. And when he couldn’t convince me, compel me, browbeat me into changing my mind…he left in a huff.
Merciful Meds, Marijuana! That man gets my goat!
Oh, what fun!!!
See…this is what it’s all about. The old goat who gets my goat will still love this kid when the sun rises, tomorrow. If the vote goes his way, his love will be glorious, beaming, all-encompassing. He will be ear-to-ear smiles. Happy as a clam. As laid back as…well, let’s not go there. Suffice it to say, my fellow will be on the top of the world.
And I will NEVER hear the end of it.
If he is on the ‘losing’ side, he’ll be surly. That’s a given. But he’ll not be beaten. He’ll not admit defeat. Because he’ll know that there is always next year. Another chance to change the laws. One more opportunity to right a wrong, fix the country, restore the moral fiber of this promised land. Because, of course, his way is the right way. One hundred percent, every time, all the time. RIGHT.
Geez, I love that old curmudgeon.
And I absolutely adore living in a nation where we can disagree as individuals, and still remain whole as one American family.
Happy Election Day!
The above photos were taken today at my local voting station, an old one-room schoolhouse up 'the mountain' in Highland Plantation. I asked, and received, permission before taking the interior shots. (Can you pick out this author's ride to the polling station? Hint: I love men who love cats...)