Gratitude Sunday: Communicate. Learn. Vote.

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Grape vines twine, yellowed
leaves entertain tiny birds,
autumn dinner time.

Sunday Musings
Did you survive the Daylight Saving Time change? I don’t know why DST was changed to the weekend before Election Day. I suspect some nefarious conspiracy theory to control workers because there is no other good reason. Perhaps legislators prefer discombobulated constituents and fuzzy-brained voters.

If so, it’s just more reason to communicate. Politics are not considered safe topics for polite conversation. Politics are contentious and divisive. That makes it even more important to talk about.

We aren’t going to agree on everything. We just won’t. If we can accept that premise from the start and create and abide by rules of civil conversational engagement, maybe, just maybe we can talk this through. We aren’t in this alone; we live with others, our family, our friends, our community.

We can have polite conversations without anger in public. You might have to train yourself if you don’t already possess the skill. Part of sharing information is the skill of actually listening to the other person and not just having the conversation because your point of view is the most important and only point of view.

Our local grocery store employs a young man I’ve watched grow up in this community. I used to serve him at my last place of employment and we often spoke. This young man has some social skills challenges, I don’t know if he is on the Asperger’s spectrum though I suspect that is his challenge, but I’m not a doctor. He often speaks loudly and doesn’t know how to modulate his voice; he interrupts; he butts into conversations he’s not part of; he talks the whole time he is serving you. Alternatively, he is a hard worker often picking up the slack for other more able workers, he endures insults from his co-workers who treat him as inferior because of his challenges without complaint, and he is always cheerful. In other words, he is a decent, honest, hardworking, accountable human being who is gainfully employed despite his other challenges. Like all the rest of us.

Whenever he sees me in the store, even if he is not behind his service counter, he takes the time to greet me because he remembers me always greeting him when I served him. Last week when we were chatting I asked him if he had voted. In Oregon we vote by mail and have nearly three weeks between receiving ballots in the mail and when they are due at the ballot box. He said he’d voted already.

I thanked him for voting. I was done. I was nosy and wanted to know if he voted and that question had been answered. I normally do not want to know who people vote for as I don’t like the resulting argument if we disagree.

This young man was so proud of voting. He was proud of making his own decision. Our state is having a contentious governor’s race and he was excited about trying the contender rather than the incumbent. He wanted to tell me his reasons.

I had voted the other way. After listening to his reasons, I explained mine. You could see light bulbs going on all over his face. He hadn’t talked to anyone else. He only had TV commercials to go on. He didn’t have the skills to research candidates or look beyond the television. He said he wished he’d known more.

I didn’t call him an idiot. He has his right to his opinion whether he had other challenges or not, and even if his information changed at a later time. I told him instead how proud I was of him for taking the time to vote, for making up his own mind, and for understanding that others of us might not agree. I also told him I was proud of him for being able to discuss the matter in a civilized manner and not getting angry because we disagreed.

He’s a happy kind of guy anyway, but I could see how my words made him feel good about voting. That’s the important part. Politics are boring to most of us, and it’s difficult to participate in something boring even when it affects our lives and livelihoods. I was taught politics and religion are not topics for polite conversation. But we need to feel good about voting and how we vote. To that end, a format or forum for discussion could be an advantage.

I’ve discovered with talking to people of all ages all over my little town there is little to no forum for political discussion. City Council meetings have an agenda and allow little time for discussion of what is on the agenda, let alone other topics. Political lectures or rallies focus on subjecting us to their agendas rather than open discussions where it is safe to agree and disagree. Most small towns are too large any more for weekly town hall meetings or Sunday socials. Church is for that other verboten topic, religion, and rightly so.

Schools don’t allow teachers to talk about politics with each other or their students, unless the class is directly related to political science. In my school district, school administrators discourage political discussion. Students have a tendency to become involved and protests ensue, which is as it should be. The youth of our world have the fire and energy, the future is imminent to them and belongs to them, and never a better time to begin working for and with change in our own communities than when you are young. For some of us, that involvement continues the rest of our lives.

We know political discussion leads to possible rebellion. I lived and participated in it in the late 1960s and early 1970s protesting the Vietnam War. I know also communication can often lead to understanding and unity rather than confusion and divisiveness.

If there are no forums on a larger scale, smaller political conversations take place at the coffee shop or in the pool or between vendor canopies at the farmers market. Maybe that is where we start. In the coffee shops and the pools and the farmers market, but let’s make it official, a concentrated community effort to share information and knowledge without brow beating or proselytizing.

Could a local popular coffee shop offer a once a week, let’s call it “CoffeeTalk”, event inviting brew drinkers (tea too, we are all about inclusion) to discuss politics? Participants would have to agree to civil rules of discussion like no name calling, no profanity, sensitivity to inappropriate language use such as racist or misogynist language, no violence, and maybe a few others, but keep the rules brief, simple, and posted. Make it an open forum so any and all interested citizens could join in. I would hope for two things to happen here: 1. increased business for the coffee shop, and 2. a truly safe open forum to share political ideas and information.

Farmers market happens once a week in many towns. They might offer a canopied area attended/monitored by a volunteer political science major from a local college, with a few chairs, and a “Stop and Talk” sign. Post some information, start some conversations, encourage participants to continue those conversations with family and friends.

An aquatic center might offer a (discounted?) hour a week event and call it “Politics in the Pool”. Everybody’s invited, but you have to get into that suit and into the water. Since most pools have poor acoustics, I have a feeling there would be many pods of pool talkers. While it could be wet and wild, I doubt there would be much swimming but that’s not the point of events like this.

That’s just a start for ideas. I can find as many reasons to why they wouldn’t work as to why they could. (That’s just me.) There are tons of other ideas to come up with that may or may not work. (That’s me, too.) But some things you don’t know until you try. Our political climate now isn’t very comfortable; maybe talking about it could change things more to the way we think they should go.

The constant in these events would be the safe space for discussion, and since we are not used to doing that, we’d have to self-monitor for the civil rules of engagement, and teach those who have no clue how to do that. My guess is that would be part of every event, because, well, people. And with any luck at all you would be attracting new people on a regular basis.

Knowledge is power. More knowledge of politics gives us more power in voting. Sharing knowledge, communicating, is more powerful because then we know how our friends and neighbors are thinking and vice versa. We might find we think more alike than we thought. Either way information shared is knowledge gained, and knowledge is power. Vote.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Lacey white fluff of dandelion seeds. Red and green preview of the upcoming season. Bright colorful leaves against the gray sidewalk. Found this little volunteer tree last week and couldn’t resist the picture this week when the leaves turned to yellow against the red of the burning bush.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Season 4 of DCI Banks (2010-2016, rated TV-14) formulaic British cop show. The title character is going through life struggles and isn’t dealing well during his mid-life crisis. * Tully (2018, rated R) with Charlize Theron, *spoiler alert* as the mother of a newborn, a five year old son with developmental challenges, and a bright eight year old daughter, who has a dissociative episode with her post-partum depression. The story isn’t told in a straightforward way like the description I just gave, but with a quirky revelation at the end.

Currently ReadingAlice (2015, fiction/fantasy) by Christina Henry. Giant rabbits, Magicians, and the quest for the evil Rabbit is nearly done. * Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (2018, social justice) by Cecile Richards. Inspiring and entertaining story of helping her mother, Ann Richards, become the first woman governor of Texas, and Cecile’s own career after Ann’s governorship was over.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting my first senior discount at one of my favorite local stores where I regularly shop.
  • Halloween night was quiet at the pool as most swim students preferred to trick or treat. Treat for me.
  • Getting to enjoy an afternoon with a beloved friend from childhood.
  • The little birds that love my grape vine this time of year. They eat the last of the grapes and bugs, and tweetle and twitter between the vine and the mud puddle. They love the puddle as well. I love watching them.
  • How refreshing the aroma of rain washed soil and air.
  • The son helping the hubster take the air conditioner out of the window and put away for the season.
  • Finding a pretty shirt at the second-hand store.
  • Old black and white TV shows when I want background noise and pictures I don’t have to pay attention to.
  • Learning how to use the camera on my phone.
  • The stimulation of civil discourse.
  • The first frost hasn’t happened yet, so we are still getting Oregon strawberries. The berries are a little more watery from the rain, but sweet and tasty all the same.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Gratitude Sunday: Communicate. Learn. Vote.

  1. piratesorka says:

    I’m so glad you had that conversation with the young man at the store. You took the time and listened to his reasons and while it did not go along with yours you taught him a huge lesson in being respectful to other peoples opinions ( which I am sure many do not give that sort of respect to him!) I have to wonder how many other people his age did NOT vote. I love the idea of a political forum in a coffee shop with definite rules and time limits
    You did not know how to take photos with your phone? Here all this time I thought that was what you were using!
    Loved, loved, LOVED seeing you. Big hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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