Saturday, January 28, 2017

Less Walk, More Talk

In my Rehearsal series, I have two young women who debate the biggest current event issue of the month. I wrote the scene/book years ago when it was less of a hot topic, but it is set in 1974 and it was a hot topic of the time, as well.

This month on following weekends, there was a "Women's March" on D.C. and a "March for Life" on D.C. Surprisingly, or what should be surprising, the two groups have been presented as polar opposites. The big question going around appears to be, "Do women have rights to their own bodies or do they not?"

Well, that's what the media is putting out, anyway, and how it's coming off. All over social media, women (and some men) are at each other's throats about the issue and breaking up friendships over differing opinions.

That's a real shame.

The thing is: We all want the best for people as a group. We simply disagree on what the "best" is or what's "right" or not.

But, we're looking at people as groups, not as individuals.

During all of this polar opposite left vs. right arguing, maybe we should take off our shoes, put down our signs, and talk to each other like the individual people we are. No yelling. No name-calling. No stereotype shaming. Just talk. Look each other in the eyes. Look past the political issues and at the person to whom we're speaking.

That can be hard on social media, particularly when we're talking with people we've never met, arguing with people we know nothing about, and assuming a heck of a lot we don't really know.

What's really sad, though, is the friendships I see breaking up. People who formerly respected each other, who have laughed at the same jokes, mourned at the same events, enjoyed the same music or books or movies, suddenly turn on each other based on one political issue. Suddenly, we're putting the issue first instead of each other and we refuse to see common ground.

There is common ground. There is. The biggest is that we all, honestly, are trying to do what we passionately feel is right. We are.

That's a good thing. Passion is good. Caring enough to fight for a cause is good. It is. What isn't good, and isn't helpful, is looking over the person to debate the issue. Issues are about people. Individuals. Once we look past that, nothing can get solved.

The two characters begin their fictional story at 19 and 23 but they go way back to childhood. The older has helped protect the younger for years, and as they grow, that starts to turn the other direction. They do disagree about what to do when there's an unwanted pregnancy. They each have their valid reasons to feel as they do. During some point in their discussion, one tells the other she's always been more moral than most people and most can't live up to her standards. The second young woman thinks about this a bit and argues the point. She says it's not about morals. It's about what you can deal with and what you can't.

Through it all, the ups and downs and disagreements and different outlooks, these two young women listen to each other. They consider the other viewpoints. They are respectful and willing to bend somewhat, enough to remain friends. They can agree to disagree and let it go when they can't bend. And they do that. They remain friends.

We all have plenty we're dealing with on a regular basis. We all have different and similar obstacles, different and similar viewpoints. Some of us need a constant challenge while others shy from too much challenge whether because we're already overwhelmed or because it's not in our nature. We can all only do what we can do, and we need to respect that.

There is never only one right answer.

The important thing is to stop looking only at sides and issues and start looking at each other as vulnerable, loving, caring, passionate, concerned individuals with valid points and opinions. Disagreeing with an opinion does not make in invalid.

Within all of my books, I have dissenting characters. There wouldn't be a decent story without it. We're not all supposed to see things the same. We're supposed to listen to each other, help each other grow, hold each other up through our struggles. We cannot help one thing through attack and slander and rudeness. It will never work. We must listen to and respect each other.

Or leave each other alone and go on with our own lives. I have characters who make that choice, as well. It's often the only possible denouement to a climax that ends in stalemate.

It's often only about what we can handle and what we can't, and that's different for each of us.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him march to the beat which he hears,
however measured or far away."

Henry D. Thoreau

The Rehearsal Series is an epic musical saga beginning in Spring, 1974 and running into the mid-Eighties over a series of six books. Family, parenting, and friendship mix into a story of lingering and passionate romance.
A Different Drummer is the first book of the series now split into sections for easier download. Overture is the prologue and it is a free download.

No comments: