Let’s take a breath together. It’s election day. A really important one. And on top of that we’re living through a f*cking pandemic. And on top of that you’ve got your kids home. All the time.
Are your nerves running high? Have you been stress-munching on that leftover halloween candy? Me too.
So first- Let’s breathe. Seriously. Do it.
And as we change a diaper, made a puree, fill a bath, warm a bottle, let’s breathe.
Here’s what we know – No matter what happens today and this week, our job as parents is to continue to love our babies. We care so much about this election precisely because we love our babies so much.
We want them to grow into a world where there is respect for each other no matter what race, ethnicity, gender identities, religion, or country of origin.
It’s heartbreaking that the chasm in this country feels increasingly irreparable. It’s not the world we want for our babies.
So today as we bite our nails, doom scroll through our feeds and eat just one more Twix bar, let’s strain to understand the other side. That’s all we can do at this point.
Yesterday my family was on the shuttle in Zion National Park. Everyone was wearing a mask except for one woman sitting right in front of us.
I politely asked her if she didn’t mind putting on her mask. Her partner was wearing one, so it didn’t seem like an outrageous request.( Plus the fact that a simple piece of fabric on our faces SAVES LIVES.)
When she didn’t answer I said it louder. She and her partner kept their gaze ahead and just ignored me completely. And I sat seething.
We’ll come back to the end of this story in a second. For now, let’s understand what was going on for each of us.
Without fully knowing her perspective I can assume we have some major differences in our fundamental guiding dichotomies.
Here’s what I mean. Before setting out on our road trip this year I was lucky to have stumbled onto a podcast episode that would help me understand people I might encounter along the way outside of my comfy liberal Brooklyn bubble.
In it, Lee Hartley Carter explains the differences in thinking between Democrats and Republicans. According to her, it’s the distinction in primary values that prevents us from being able to understand each other. Both sides see the world in two very different dichotomies.
Democrats see the world in terms of HARM vs CARE. For them, caring means ensuring social justice, healthcare for all, equal rights in the workforce, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, regulations for climate control, etc. For Democrats, if you are not driven by the CARE for your fellow human, then you are essentially condoning HARM.
Does that resonate?
Meanwhile, Republicans most often see the world in terms of LIBERTY vs. OPPRESSION. For them, the utmost priority is to insure their private human rights. Regulations they don’t agree with will be seen as OPPRESSION, threatening their right to decide for themselves. Guns, masks, curfews, quarantine, health care for all, taxes, affirmative action, communism, laws against fracking, etc – they all go against LIBERTY and freedom in their minds.
This paradigm makes sense to me. I can understand the Trump supporters I know through this lens. And I can see how they don’t understand my view. We’ve all grown up with certain dichotomies, and we’ve become so accustomed to them that another point of view feels literally impossible.
But as parents we have no choice. Not only that, we’re experts. We do it with our babies and kids all the time. We stretch ourselves to see the world through their eyes, understand their perspective, empathise with their challenges, no matter how uncomfortable it is. And when our kid can’t possibly wear the blue socks because they “hurt” and we need to scour the house for the orange socks when we’re already 10 minutes late, we have no choice but to take a breath, put our anxiety aside, and empathise with our baby’s experience.
It’s not easy. Especially if, like me, your HARM alarm is on HIGH. But I don’t see any other way.
So back to the bus. As she was getting off the shuttle the woman put her mask on.
I couldn’t take it any longer: “So NOW you put on your mask?”
She replied: “If you’re so worried maybe you shouldn’t be out in public.”
And I answered: “It’s just about caring for your fellow human.”
And there it was. I was seeing the situation through my HARM/CARE lens. She was seeing the situation through her LIBERTY/OPPRESSION lens.
And both of us felt completely RIGHT in our views.
I don’t know what this week will bring. But I do know that we’re parents, godammit. There’s no way we’re not going to do all we can to make the world a place where love reigns.
What do you think? Is it possible to bridge the great divide? I’d love to hear your thoughts. COMMENT below.
Do you have a friend who’s got one hand on a bottle, one hand in the M&M bag, and eyes on the developing election? Send them this reminder to take a breath. Tell them to sign up for more.
Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!