Posted September 5, 2021
“Trying to make some sense of it all, But I see it makes no sense at all. Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right! Here I am stuck in the middle with you.”
From Gerry Rafferty and Stealer’s Wheel’s, Stuck In The Middle With You
Over the past couple of years, I’ve experienced something that seems to happen to me once or twice a year. Before I share the story, let me give a little background about myself and a glimpse into a policy I try to live by.
Like you, I have certain political thoughts/philosophies. While I feel that they are well-grounded, they have changed some over the years. In some cases, they have changed significantly. It can all be summarized by the old saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and I believe that it’s applicable to both major political parties.
That’s about as political as I get in my public writings. My purpose in my writing is to share the latest going on in areas of entertainment that are of interest to baby boomers. The purpose of the “Unplugged” pieces is to encourage, memorialize, and provoke productive thought in baby boomers as we are on the backside of this mountain called “Life”.
To close this thought, I’ll hijack one of Elvis’ quotes about politics and tweak it to apply to me: I’d prefer to keep my political views to myself. I’m just an entertainment reporter/fan.
Against that backdrop, it is amusing to me how people are towards me with regards what I do and don’t say or even whether I’m “allowed” to say anything that comes close to “political”.
A couple of years ago, I was on social media and was engaging in a running commentary about an awards show that was on TV. A person chose that thread to go loudly and partisan in their comments.
I chose to ignore their comments, but I left them in the mix. That person demanded that I comment. I indicated that the purpose of that thread was not political but about the award show that I happened to know they had a keen interest in.
That wasn’t good enough for them. They demanded that I indicate my political thoughts about their comments known. I declined. Once again, they demanded that I comment under penalty of them unfriending me (I swear, I thought I was on a kindergarten playground when I read that). When I indicated that I would not be bullied into a comment, they gave me one more insulting blast and then promptly “unfriended” me.
Kindergarten playgrounds is such a rough and tumble world.
A few months later, I posted a politically neutral comment. A now-former close associate of mine scolded me for posting such a comment and indicated that it would impact my readership. I disagreed but decided to err on the side of caution (and in respecting their then-valued opinion) and removed the post. During the January 6th protest, this former associate exploded their opinion on social media. I privately sent them a screenshot of their admonition to me and suggested that they might want to head their own words. They declined saying, among other things, that they would say what they wanted to. Their actions impacted readership among a few. It affected good relationships. All for politics and politicians who don’t know our names.
This past week, I posted a meme that showed what appears to be a Revolutionary War soldier grabbing the GOP elephant and Democrat donkey by the scruff of their necks, telling them, “I’ve had just about enough of you two.”
To say that a spirited debate ensued would be an understatement. I always welcome respectful, dissenting comments. I will usually either respectfully respond or remain silent. I did a little of both this time, maintaining my view that both politics is corrupt.
A “friend” then labeled me as an extremist of one of the ends of the political spectrum and then proceeded to “unfriend” me.
I’ve got to find another playground.
I have a couple of reasons for sharing my experiences. One is that, sadly, the concept of disagreeing agreeably has been horribly thrown out of society’s window. It’s been replaced with, “If you’re not ‘for’ me (agree with everything I say), then you’re against me”.
We’ve also gotten to a point of where we’ll fight to the death (of relationships, at least) in defense of politicians who don’t know we even exist and are only interested in us at election time.
I used to be that way. Very much so. Then I had an experience that woke me up in a very real way.
The Reader’s Digest version is: A friend of mine insulted on social media a politician that I thought more or less positively about. We got into an online argument. My comments were caustic, acerbic, and quite cutting. So much so that it brought my friend to tears behind the scenes.
When I learned of this, I realized that I almost destroyed a very good friendship over a politician who didn’t know that I existed (and still doesn’t). I apologized twice: Once in writing and later in person.
The interesting thing is that, in time, I thought less and less of that politician. To be fair, I’ve thought less and less about all politicians but especially that one. I have no idea if my friend has moved away from their political leanings. That’s not what I’m concerned about. I’m concerned about the well-being of my circles of friends. How they’re doing. Are they happy? What successes and triumphs are they experiencing? Can I be there for them to lean on during life’s trials.
Those friends are the Left and Right. They are gay and straight. They are of different faiths than mine. Some are professed atheists and agnostics. Some practice different lifestyles than I do. But they are all friends who I care about and respect.
Historically, mankind seems to be incapable to govern itself without corrupting themselves. However, we have shown loyalty, respect, and love to our circles when those relationships are transparent and pure. It’s my hope that we can change America by being that way again.
In the meantime, you can be stuck in the middle with me. I think my playground is pretty darn cool. The only exception is: No bullies allowed.