The country’s geared up for the 2012 political showdown, and everyone’s asking: Has Obama delivered on any of his promises? Has this administration done anything worthwhile? Has anything really changed since 2008?
Ask 100 people and you’ll get 100 different answers.
The thing is, our society’s more vocal than it’s ever been, no doubt due to all the time we spend in our new social media playground. We’re now able to share and send and +1 and IM and tweet and link our opinions with thousands of friends and followers in a matter of seconds…even anonymously, if we so choose.
During the countdown to November 6th, I promise I’ll try to consider where the other side’s coming from, even when I firmly believe in my candidate's direction. We’re supposedly an evolved species, but since the 2012 presidential election is considered by many to be the most defining in history, the voices from now until election day may become deafening.
I’m no politico -- in fact my friends and family will attest that I’m more of a "Kardashio." I'll often escape the nightmare of disrespectful political discourse by tuning into the E! Channel to zone out to train-wreck TV like Keeping Up With The Kardashians; doing so actually makes the mudslinging politicians look like respectable human beings.
But back to seeing others' perspectives -- and why it’s so important. Here's one example: The City of Chicago recently reversed its decision to award Herbert Pulgar first place in its annual contest for high schoolers to design the City vehicle sticker. Chicago’s City Clerk Susana Mendoza declared that the hands depicted in Pulgar’s drawing could be interpreted by some as gang signals. When I first heard the news, I agreed with Mendoza’s perspective; no need to stir things up, right? But then I saw this video of fifteen-year-old Pulgar talking about his artwork.
Could this boy be any more upset? It’s heartbreaking. His art teacher even shows how the hands were copied from a non-gang-related, educational source. While knee-jerk reactions happen (and we all have them), come on! If Pulgar’s design is so offensive, then someone ought to tell Alice Dubois in Evanston, Illinois, that the piece she’s got displayed at Argo Tea may incite a riot between the oolong and chai drinkers. I won’t even think about how a Pai Mu Tan drinker might interpret that third eye…
Another example: My friend received a call from her father just before he and his wife left for a three-week, cross-country road trip. Larry told his daughter he'd put all of their important documents (ie., house and car titles, bank account numbers, etc) into a folder he'd labeled the "Dead Larry File."
"Dad. That's the worst thing I've ever heard," she said. She couldn't decide which was worse: his morbid tone or the sheer pessimism of the topic. Semi-retirement's making him crazy, she thought.
"I put the 'Dead Larry File' in a fireproof box in the master bedroom closet, next to my sweaters," he'd continued.
"Dad!" she said. "Stop already!"
"If your mother and I die on our trip," he said, "everything you need is all together."
"The 'Dead Larry File,' Dad? You're serious?"
"You betcha. The key to the fireproof box is in my desk drawer in an envelope labeled 'Dead Larry File.' "
"Put Mom on the phone, Dad. Try to have a nice trip..."
Her mother picked up an extension.
"Mom," my friend said, hoping her mother might shed some light on the doom-and-gloom. "Dad just told me about the 'Dead Larry File.' "
"Yes," her mom laughed. "Did he tell you the story behind it?"
"There's a story?"
"There is," she said, more serious. "When my dad died suddenly, my mother had no idea what was in any of our accounts. She didn't know what we owed on the house, where the money was, or what bills to pay..."
"I didn't know that..."
"...and I told Dad, 'I don't ever want to go through what my mother went through.'"
"I can't blame you."
"So, every month, Dad and I sit down and update the 'Dead Larry File.' Sometimes he even puts it into a PowerPoint for me."
"He does that for you?" my friend asked.
"He does," her mother replied.
Morbid? Hardly. Loving? You bet.
That story, in particular, reminds me how much I need to keep my mind open to the perspectives of others...and also just how desperately I need to organize my filing system.