Take the High Road

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I embarrassed myself yesterday. And I did it in front of one of my kids, which made it even worse.

I’ve consciously avoided politics for many years. At least I’ve avoided constantly reading about them. I have found it much more effective to live my politics because I know it’s almost impossible to get adults to change their mind or think what I think.

But I’m not gonna lie. I’m pretty upset with where we’re at as a country. I don’t like the hateful tribalism. I don’t like the bad behavior. I don’t like the lies and hypocrisy. I mourn the loss of civility and the ability to compromise. It makes me so profoundly sad, and disappointed, and somewhat anxious.

But I mostly keep that bottled up. Because reading about, talking about it, feeling those emotions doesn’t do any good. Most people like hating the opposition. They like being outraged. And nobody seems too interested in deescalating or finding common ground. Feels like it’s always getting worse. So I keep it inside like a cavity on my soul.

Until yesterday.

Behind our property is a public area where people can gather. I was relaxing in our family room, and suddenly I heard a major commotion. Honking. Sirens. People shouting. It was a group of demonstrators for one of the candidates. They were meeting up with each other before moving on to whatever event they were joining. They were drenched in posters and political signage.

And even though I’m pretty disgusted with both parties, the group making all the noise behind my house was the one I am more disgusted with. The one I plan to vote against as I hold my hose and try not to throw up in my mouth.

Normally I can deal with it. I stay away from the news and conversation. I keep the sorrow, the anger, the fear, at arms length. But having it all behind my house – it triggered me. They broke through my emotional armor. It brought out my worst self.

I went down to our property line and screamed all sorts of obscenities. I threw a carton of eggs at them. I was a raving maman. All of which, was dumb as hell.

What was I accomplishing? Absolutely nothing.

What I wanted was for them to stop believing what they believe and acting like they act. The chance of that happening as a result of me yelling at them was less than zero. In fact, what I did was embolden them even further. I sank to their level. I let them control my emotions. I let them get a rise out of me – which I’m sure they enjoyed.

Furthermore, I validated their belief that the people who disagree with them are zealous crazy people – because that’s exactly how I was acting. And of course they pulled out their phones to video me, so they could prove that point to others. I gave them additional ammunition. The irony is I’m not even a member of the opposition. I don’t identify with either side. They both disgust me.

And worst of all, I did all of this in front of my son. I set an epic example of what NOT to do. Afterward, I had to sit him down and explain all of this to him. I had to say “I’m sorry. Please don’t follow my poor example”.

Instead I told him to be like the Boss (my wife). She never takes the bait. She never lowers herself . She always takes the high road. Years ago, she was in a fast food restaurant and witnessed someone make a very rude comment to someone else. I would have mouthed off and created a scene in defense of the wronged party.

She just turned to the instigator and said “Excuse me, I think you dropped something”. “What?” they replied. “Your manners” she said.

I’m not sure she changed any minds, but there’s a greater than zero chance that she did. She certainly didn’t make the situation worse. In that moment of restraint and class, she was more effective than a truckload of eggs.

I hope my kids grow up to be like her. Cause I’ve got some stuff to work on.

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