1.26.2011

Can of Worms

What is a Can of Worms post?

Politics Rant Rant

*cringe*  *deep breath* 

Have I lost my mind?  Am I really writing about politics the day after the State of the Union Address?  Well, you're reading it, so I guess I wrote it.  And really, as I formulate my thoughts they aren't so much about the State of the Union as they are about the state of the union.  We already know that my glass is half full pretty much all of the time and that even my contacts are rose-colored, but in the first 30 seconds of the SOTU Address, it became clear to me where the real problem lies, with all of us, on an individual level.

I logged into my twitter account at the start of President Obama's speech and was inundated with negativity and snark.  Seriously people, the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES is talking.  Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, don't you think you should listen?  Don't you think you should hear what the leader of our country is thinking?

Apparently not.  As my twitter feed was full of comments about not watching the SOTU at all, and making snide comments about the president.  Now, lest I am accused of having no sense of humor, I'm not talking about jokes/comments made in fun, I'm talking about downright disrespect.

It is this, the lack of interest and the disrespect, that is the largest problem in the country.  ON BOTH SIDES. Let me say that again.  ON.  BOTH.  SIDES.

Somewhere along the line we got so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we forgot to listen to what the person speaking is saying.  We got so wrapped up in being right that, clearly, someone who thinks differently from us is wrong, before they've even uttered a word.

We all have our 'issue'.  The one thing that is most important to us.  It can be a good thing.  But when it prevents us from listening, really listening, to what someone else thinks it is a horrible tragedy.

This trend of disrespect, lack of listening, and having to be right started to really rear it's ugly head with the scandals of President Clinton, intensified under President G.W. Bush, and (I pray) is peaking under President Obama.  No, I pray that it would just go away (yep, there's those rose colored glasses).

Our egos have gotten too big.  Our lives too wrapped up in ourselves (at a personal and a national level).  We've forgotten what it's like to empathize because we are too busy forming our own argument to truly hear what others are saying.  We are talking at each other instead of with each other.

It didn't matter whether President Obama was a democrat or a republican when he started talking tonight.    Our response was already determined before he uttered a word.  If that doesn't scare you, nothing will.

I know that simply listening to one another will not lead to complete agreement.  But I also know that continuing to talk at each other will not lead to any type of agreement.  It's time to open our minds and our hearts and truly work together; not just talk about it.

*steps off soap box*

This Can of Worms has been opened.  What do you think?

22 comments:

  1. Spot on, as usual. I, too, was disgusted with some of the comments from both my Twitter and Facebook friends. I wasn't a George Bush fan (understatement of the century), but I listened to each and every one of his SOTU addresses. There's a reason this speech is televised on all the major networks simultaneously. It's a big deal. It's important that the people of this county take the time to listen and educate themselves about what's really going on here -- good or bad. The snap judgments of "He's Democrat, I don't like him and disagree with everything he says" and "She's Republican so obviously she's wrong" have to stop if we want the country to move forward. Yes, forward. I think most people would be surprised what they'd learn and how their opinions might change if they'd shut up and listen once in awhile.

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  2. well said! couldn't have said it better myself!

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  3. i agree that people can make rash judgments and say quick, stupid things through twitter and facebook of under the guise of being 'witty', but honestly? i guess i'm confused why you logged onto twitter at the start of the speech in the first place.

    why not just listen to the president and make your own determination about his words, like you advocate?

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  4. I didn't know you when GW was president...but I have to wonder if you were saying the same thing then...

    most people in your shoes today were acting the same way you decry during the GW Bush presidency.

    I know you claim you wish it would stop, but I have a hard time believing that if it had been a republican president getting that treatment from those on your "side" of the aisle, that you'd be defending and telling them they are ignorant and ill-informed. At least in my experience, many who didn't like Bush never said they had to respect him while he was president...matter of fact they blatantly disrespected him over and over with no apology. Now, I am not a big fan of the man (way too liberal for me) but I'm pretty much even in my apathy and general distrust of politicians in general. As my father always says, "You know how a politician is lying? His/her mouth is moving"

    Oh yeah and the transcript is available online. Why waste time watching it on TV when I can read every word of it the next day? Sure, I was making light of not watching it (but really...KU basketball was on...I don't care who's president, I'm probably not missing KU game for SOTU)

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  5. Do I at least get points for waiting for him to start talking before I started snark-ing?

    I mostly agree, and yet I'm not sure that it is wrong to be cynical. Josh and I are out of it politically just enough that we turned to each other and went "what?!" a few times such as when the president was talking about corporate tax cuts. Perhaps unfortunately, we wouldn't have been listening if we weren't poking fun, because it would have been too boring to matter. After all, we could just skim the transcript today.

    I must find war more interesting than the economy, because I picked apart the last president's rhetoric just as much, but it was more fun to listen to. So perhaps one thing to be worried about is those of us who only look at politics as a source of entertainment?

    I don't think you're talking about me here, but I feel the need to explain since there were at least a few people who thought I wasn't listening to what President Obama was saying when I was joking about the cheesy names given to school funding/incentive/whatever they are called policies. I was listening, but I don't think that what he said was going to do anything to change reality precisely because you are right that no one is really listening. So I suppose it is a self-perpetuating problem.

    I don't think that I'll really take it seriously until congress decides to hold a joint session after the speech and the president signs something into law within two hours of speaking. Then I'll think it is truly important to really listen to the State of the Union!

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  6. Alison and Michelle, why not give Rebecca the benefit of the doubt on her own blog?

    Maybe she logged onto Twitter because it is what she always does in the evening and the SOTU is not yet so fast-paced that one can't both tweet and listen. And we have no reason to think that she wouldn't have hated the haters just as much if it were a Republican president.

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  7. @Matching Moonheads - that's a fair question. I actually steered clear of twitter for most of the speech, RTed a few things (as compared to how much I tweet during, say, a football game). But, I like the RTs of quotes b/c I often miss things the first time (as Michelle pointed out the full transcript is available today and I'll read it because I'm not a strong auditory learner). That said, if it were only on places like twitter and Facebook, but it's that I actually hear people say the same things IRL and read them in articles. So, I do agree, twitter and Facebook provide a place to go for many to be snarky and hide behind their screen, but in this case, people actually are saying what they are writing.

    @Michelle - First, I almost put an * on this to say I wasn't speaking directly to you, if WVU had been playing, you better believe that's what I would've been watching instead. I can handle making fun, it's when the personal attacks against one side or the other start. I actually did defend GW Bush, still do. It would probably surprise you to know I was a registered Republican for quite a while. And I also criticize President Obama as well (for example, I don't think public money should fund abortion unless it is a situation of double effect, and then it's a different category as we've discussed here before) It drove me nuts that people treated him so disrespectfully. AND, it drives me nuts that 'liberals (generalizing for lack of a better term)' say the things about Sarah Palin that they do. I'm not a fan of her politics, but clearly lots of people are so it's worth listening to her occasionally to see what she's saying. I've I said she's crazy? Probably. Is that contributing to the problem? Probably. Do I need to work on that? Definitely. And I completely agree that most politicians can't be trusted, but until our system of government changes we have to trust them on some level.

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  8. Rae, thanks for pointing out that I should give Rebecca benefit of the doubt. I guess I asked that question because another of my FB friends was spouting the "we should respect the office of the President" but four years ago was calling GW a buffoon openly and saying what an idiot he was and that she didn't have to respect him no matter what office he held.

    REbecca - apologies for not knowing better! Of course you defend against both sides being disrespectful. And honestly, my whole "I'm glad I'm ignoring the president" was tongue-in-cheek because if a KU game had not been on, I would most likely have had SOTU on my TV...if for not other reason than to listen with my almost-10-year-old and discuss. So, tonight, we'll read through it and discuss. :)

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  9. @Rae you are right, I wasn't talking about you either. And I was quite entertained by your tweets. I think I may have misused the word 'snark' in this post. I can think we have to laugh at ourselves, it's the down right nastiness that I can't take., but so often that nastiness is hidden in a 'joke'.
    A joint session right after the speech? Getting something actually done? Now THERE's a GREAT idea! And obviously I don't pay too close of attention to politics either, as I was just as surprised about my bigger paycheck as you :)! This post really could've been about many issues, not just politics, I guess. In many many areas we need to stop talking at each other and start talking with each other. Give the Rumi quote 'Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field, I will meet you there' a chance.

    And Rae, you are right, I had almost forgotten about the SOTU. I logged into twitter because it's what I do, and I only remembered about the SOTU when I wondered why my DVR was showing that 'The Good Wife' would be recorded. Priorities.

    Finally, it's a shame I didn't blog for long while GW Bush was president. Y'all would have seen very similar posts.

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  10. @Michelle - thanks :). I totally agree, I am glad that President Obama is president, but the fact that it is him in the Oval Office is NOT what makes me respect the Presidency. And ignoring the President isn't always a bad thing - for example sometimes you get nice surprises like bigger paychecks and you don't know why! And I totally would've been watching WVU Basketball if it had been on!

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  11. Michelle, I wondered how much of your comments were tongue-in-cheek. I feel like we (meaning the whole world online) always misunderstand anything less than completely direct unless we exactly share the tweeter/blogger's sentiments.

    Rebecca, would you like it if we just let NPR summarize things?
    http://www.npr.org/2011/01/26/133211131/the-state-of-the-union-in-your-words?sc=fb&cc=fp

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  12. @Rae I could tell much of what Michelle said was tongue-in-cheek because I know and love her :)

    And, that link - I LOVE IT! On one hand it gives me such hope to see how similar everyone, regardless of political affiliation, saw things and on the other hand, that we can still have some humor in this country, over Salmon!

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  13. Sorry, thought this was a can of worms we were allowed to get in to! I'm trying not to assume anything, but just ask a legitimate question. I'm pretty sure Rebecca didn't take offense?

    I'm just reminded of a few years ago (gosh, probably more than a few now...) we were watching the SOTU as a family with Bush on CSPAN, and as soon as it was over my little brother grabbed the remote to turn it to one of the major news networks to see what everyone was saying about it. Well, my grandpa basically started yelling at him that he needed to form his own opinions and not just listen to the 'talking heads'. We were all shocked! (especially my little brother!)

    I don't take such an extreme view (listening to other people's - especially experts! - critiques can be helpful) but I do think there is something to be said for just watching the speech and having your own time to reflect and think about what was said and what you think, as opposed to what you think you should think. Does that make sense? Its hard to really listen and reflect when you're multitasking. Perhaps I'm just an old foggie, but I even put down the knitting (I'm always knitting while watching TV!)

    I'm aware that people will always have things to say or reasons to not like someone, and I think you're right, the fact that this is most polarizing President ever isn't helping the situation. The rhetoric is ridiculous (I believe someone on my feed said they'd rather eat a turd than listen to the SOTU by Obama. ???) but unfortunately, its predictable. Part of me does believe that maybe if we just actually paid attention to what is happening rather than worry about what else everyone else is saying, we'd actually be able to get somewhere and have a little less apathy. Too many inputs confuse the output.

    Anyway, that was my contribution to the can of worms :)

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  14. @Matching Moonheads - it is a can of worms, and I love the dialogue that's taking place, so no, I didn't take offense. I realize with these posts I open myself up to more than what others would want, and I'm okay with it. It usually stays confined to these posts and that is what matters to me.
    I think what you said is very true, we aren't paying attention. I actually use twitter as a way to get some reinforcement as to what I think I heard/saw (meaning, I look for tweets of direct quotes)- I need to read things, and sometimes say them out loud, for them to make sense to me most of the time, so just watching the speech tends to create an in-one-ear-out-the-other effect, no matter how closely I just listen.
    But to what you said, yes, we (a general we) aren't paying attention to each other. We (again, general) are too wrapped up in our own worlds that even though we have ways to connect more than we ever have, I would say we are more disconnected than ever before.
    And what your grandpa said to your little brother, it's why I turn the TV off as soon as the speech is over - I can't take the 'talking heads'.

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  15. Interesting post. I don't twitter and I didn't mention anything on FB, and I actually didn't watch the speech. My DH and I had other things going on. I just wanted to comment on the whole rhetoric issue you brought up. I heard something very interesting related to this a couple weeks ago on one of the Sunday morning talk shows (Meet the Press maybe) anyway, one of the panelists said that in this day we have so effectively (both sides of the aisle) demonized our opponent with the rhetoric of "I am right in my position and you are evil". It is no longer is "I am right and you are wrong." Or even "I can understand why you might vote for that, but I disagree because of X,Y, and Z reasons". They went onto say that as soon as a politician leaps to labeling their opponent as "evil", they will find it very hard to convince their base down the road that they could work effectively with that same person on a totally unrelated issue where they might actually have a lot in common and agree on something - because how can they even think about working with someone so "evil". I don't know if this makes sense, but I have been thinking about it a lot and trying to reframe how I view things in light of this. Yes, there are definite evils in this world - I am not disputing that, but to frame all policy issues in terms of that? We are never going to get anything done.

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  16. Well said. Both sides are at fault. Both sides.

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  17. okay, so... I confess - I did not watch the SOTU. I could blame it on our lack of cable, but, in reality, I've never watched one. :)

    why am I commenting then?! I came across this article (on Twitter, if you must know) and it reminded me of your post (which I read first): http://www.bustedhalo.com/blogs/what-would-jesus-discourse

    isn't it good to know that you're not the only one struggling with this so publicly?

    xoxo

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  18. Good points Rebecca. And you make the same point as my husband, that there needs to be change on an individual level.

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  19. Okay, I have to confess: I didn't watch last night. I knew it was on, but I didn't watch. I've never watched one. I've started watching some, but I get so ticked off at the legislators cheering every 5 seconds that I lose interest very quickly. (I like to be entertained!)
    Rose colored contacts? You betcha! :D

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  20. I agree...and I'm just as guilty. I wish I were more involved and informed, but all that political stuff tends to just overwhelm me. I always hope that someday I'll get better about it. :)

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  21. @JBTC - it makes perfect sense and I couldn't agree more!

    @Yogi - thanks!

    @Katie - thanks for the link, I'm heading there next (it's nice to know there are other crazy people out there who hit publish on these things)

    @That Married Couple - thank-you.

    @Mary - no shame in not watching. That's the beauty of living in the US, you are allowed to completely ignore the president if you want.

    @Hebrews - It overwhelms me too. I know everyone won't always agree, but I just don't understand why it must be so so complicated! I do try to watch the SOTU every year, I like the tradition of it.

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