An immodest proposal….
To be bereaved is to be troubled by grief… and often anger. In English it is said the word ‘bereave’ means to deprive of, to despoil, to seize or rob.
I think it is fair to write that the U.S. is currently a very disunited land… with many (most?) in some stage of bereavement. The political establishment is one demonstration of that disunity, but seems not to grieve and understand. Many of us feel disillusioned, impotent, frustrated, whilst both sides of the political aisle (and many of our fellow citizens) appear to raise the banner that “The end justifies the means”. Is that a statement of moral bankruptcy? Separate but equal? And now “cancel culture”?
BUT… that old saying, “all politics is local” spurs me yet to hope…. And so to my proposal. As our local Republicans and Democrats set up their electoral headquarters in Chestertown, could they be so bold and courageous as to set up their public offices in the same building, or, in spaces that sit beside one another?… allowing we, the ordinary citizens, to wander from one to the other immediately, comparing and contrasting, checking out “truth”, the meaning of words and phrases used, tracking down insidious rumors, and building into our behaviors habits of an authentic assessment of ideas, language, and promises… and surely tempting the political inhabitants of each office to talk to each other, then communicate with each other, and see the virtue in that ancient and noble word, compromise? Language could become common, meaningful, and understandable… rather than being something which currently divides. Yes, we do use the same words and labels, but the meaning and experiences we actually attach to those words are simply very different… and so the question arises, do we actually communicate? A Rand report, “Truth Decay”, stated that this phenomenon contributed to having an electorate that is susceptible to bias, disinformation, and misinformation, and is liable to perpetuate that ‘information’.
Can Republicans and Democrats (or, every potential voter) in 21620 push the national disarray robustly aside, and exercise honest civic discourse (presuming of course all can manage common meaning of the word ‘honest’), and modestly model a beginning Citizens Assembly using common or nearby physical space?
Sincerely… and in hope,
Seán O Connor