Ever look at someone, waiting for them to say something intriguing or informative, and all you can think is, “I know what her favourite hobby is – sucking lemons!” Or maybe you’ve endured lunch with the friend of a friend who will not stop talking about something that is so wrong, so untruthful you just want to stick your fork in their tongue, pay the bill, and leave for Costa Rica (assuming you’re not already IN Costa Rica, in which case you leave for Singapore). Perhaps you decided to get together with friends you haven’t seen in five years or more, haven’t had much contact with them at all, and over drinks you start to wonder if you hadn’t been drinking enough before when you all hung out or are you not drinking enough now to get through the evening.
I’m asking these questions because of The New York Times and their second most stupid act ever. They started a column called “Say Something Nice” in which people are supposed to say something nice about 45. I sometimes call him “Buttercup”; former Mexican President Vincente Fox calls him ‘the President of the Electoral College of the United States’; now that he’s begun to refer to himself as – and this just slays me ‘ ‘T’, that may be another choice for me. In any case I will not ever use his name or his supposed title (although I might go with President Fox’s choice, if forced).
And I cannot find anything nice to say about him. I can’t. One should respect the office, and one does. One cannot, and does not, and cannot see a time when one would, respect the man.
The previous occupant had many, many faults and while I think he did some amazing things, he also made some real blunders in doing the job. Don’t we all?? However, he never once made me feel that his blunders or mistakes were about greed and avarice, about denigration and disrespect, about lying to save his ass. And never once did he make me feel the whole world was going to hell in a hand basket. He made it easy to respect the office and the man.
So when I heard about The New York Times wanting us to say something nice about 45, I laughed derisively. Then I thought about that lemon-sucking woman, and the lying lunch companion, and the friends who seem to be drunk when I am not, and I realized I’m not saying nice things about them either. And maybe that’s what I should be focusing on. Finding something nice to be saying about those people who seem honestly to be giving a crap.
The fact that it’s about a crappy man, or some of his crappy programs, shouldn’t be the point, or at least not the entire point. They’re doing things, working on thing, promoting things that I believe they believe. And what they believe (aside from the terrible lies they’ve heard and re-told about both 44 and 45’s opponent, and on which I call them out every time) is not… well, it’s not what I believe at all, but it’s also maybe not so completely wrong either.
There is a true disconnect in the western world right now. It’s happening in the U.S., in Canada, in Australia, and through pretty much all of Europe. If you’ve read any history at all, you know it’s nothing we haven’t endured before, although this time it’s with 24 hour media, fake or not, and with some really ugly weapons of destruction. Is it possible that if we really worked at it honestly, this time is nothing we can’t move beyond?
Not fix. We can’t “fix” this. Some of us believe in a living minimum income, universal health care, universal family leave & child care, a shattered glass ceiling, that black lives matter, that industrial agriculture is slowly killing the earth & that processed cheese slices are not actually food, and that both table manners and cursive writing are essential to reasonable public discourse and subsequent follow-up. Some of us believe 180 degrees differently.
What we seem to be unable to do is work beyond those disagreements, to find ways to support human beings and not throw them on the trash heap. And, personally, as I’m not prepared to throw too much more on the trash heap, I’m going to try to say something nice about my 180 degrees people.
Don’t ask me what right now. I’m trying to be nice, not saintly. But maybe, just maybe, if more of us can take a deep breath and be nice, for just a moment, the moments will come easier to us, and maybe those moments will start coming to those who are at 180 degrees from us. Fewer sucked lemons, and fewer ugly lies, and fewer nice people being pulled into ideas not thought through would be very nice indeed.
And if all that happens, maybe I can quit my over-consumption of solacing butter tarts cold turkey.