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  • Betty Girardeau

Let's Talk


This isn't my favorite of the shots that I took on Saturday with my new Lensbaby lens, but I really do like the story that I think it tells. It reminds me of two people (in this case two orchids) facing each other and having a conversation. The softness indicates that there is no animosity. In fact the person (orchid) who's back is to the camera looks like he/she is giving full eye contact to the other one. Would that real life were more like that these days. I am old enough to remember vaguely the McCarthy era. I definitely remember all the civil rights unrest of the 50's and 60's, and the anti-Vietnam protests became very personal when my husband, who had ROTC obligations to honor, was sent to Vietnam in 1965. All of these were horrible and did create divides in our country. But what is going on now because of an extreme political divide, much of it fueled by the President and his supporters, is beyond any of these. I have never before felt that if I express my feelings and opinions about my sentiments to some members of my family that do not agree with me, that it could create a permanent fracture of our relationship. I do now. I remember getting exasperated with my Mother, who held strong and often unwavering opinions, but I always knew I could openly disagree and show my reasons for doing so, though her ultimate response would be one that she had learned from her father, "Don't give me the facts. I have already made up my mind." She would just walk away, and I knew that conversation was over. She would still honor my right to my opinions even if she did not agree. And it was my job to honor hers. But these days, it seems like my Mother's words represent real stumbling stones to the health of our country and our own families. When you feel unable to have an open conversation with friends and family about your different beliefs, then the divide will never go away. In fact, it may get worse. Why do so many feel threatened by opinions and ideas that are not their own? Have we forgotten how to really listen to each other, to give them credit for perhaps being right...sometimes? Rather than arguing, doesn't it behoove all parties to be open to be wrong, even partially? To recognize that it is our obligation to seek out the real facts and not believe everything we read or hear even if it may seem to support what we think we believe? And then, to have the grace to come back to the conversation and admit those things about which we can agree and to which we can agree to disagree? How wonderful it would be if we could have more agreement than disagreement, especially on hot button issues. Maybe that could happen if we would learn to really talk and listen to each other and try to not feel threatened by ideas and opinions that are not ours. Do any of us take the time to try to find out why the other person believes as they do? Too many of our interactions these days seem emotionally based and not "head" based. I will agree that I don't like to be wrong. Who does? But if someone will present me with facts and real proofs, I am willing to admit that I have been wrong and open to looking at things differently. In fact, I enjoy conversations with people of different ideas from mine IF I know that they are giving me the same courtesy of listening to me as I have to them. But few, if any of us, are willing or able to talk and listen to each other any more. So we don't. We just remain divided. How sad.

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