Should our divisions be healed, hidden or ignored?

I talk to a lot of people in life and the internet; they are diverse indeed — I don’t need no stinkin’ diversity training, I can’t escape it! And if you know me; I know your life is diverse. So it occurs to me, should our divisions, between you and I as we,  and writ large as society, be healed, hidden or ignored? It is an interesting question. I shall seek to address it here:

Face it, there are 300,000,000 of us, and we all don’t agree. In fact, if polls, and studies, and reports, and think tanks all agree that there is this astounding plethora of opinions on every matter under the sun, would it be better to consider how to allow for all this reality of diversity instead of trying a one size fits all command from Washington? Particularly by insisting on “diversity” you are preaching conformity — it’s perverse — you must have this many of this type of friends and c0-workers, in exact proportion to the population, and no more and no less. And ye shall all think the same on diversity — which is hard to do, when one things about it. For diversity itself, must, perforce, be diverse, how can we all think the same on it?

Yet, too, on taxes, schools, transportation, defense, security, environment (and, did I miss anything? Probably the list is endless) there are these slivers of the country that lean this way or that. It seems at times that no position ever commands more than 20% of the nation.

We talk of “healing our divisions.” Why heal them? In fact, what is wrong with these divisions? Surely the Orthodox Jews are divided from the Amish even. Could those two groups ever agree on anything? I can’t see how really; perhaps on a few common things, like, oh: “hello,” and then get out of each other’s way. Alas, it also seems that each sliver, each 20%, wants to impose it’s view on what should be done on the other 80%, and worse, prevent the 80% from doing what it wants; and thus we get endless federal laws, and the states and cities and counties are less and less responsible for anything. And worse, each sliver wants to label the others as the ones who are destroying the nation – and I can’t fathom how a nation created for individual pursuit of happiness can be destroyed by everyone, um, pursuing their happiness.

Is this the consequence of the numbers of people? I don’t think so. For we really don’t know 300,000,000 people; what we know is our circle of friends and family. This ebbs and flows throughout life because of death, and birth, and marriage, or change in jobs or city one lives in, or even if the street changes; for it might change the kid’s school, and so he winds up growing up with this bunch, and not that. I know, roughly 200 people, pushing 250. I think. Let me tally it up, the people I can think of right now: 60 family in the US, 40 family in the Czech Republic. Then, oh, 90 people in Louisiana, and 25 to 40 each in New York and Phoenix, and 20 down Mexico way. And now, maybe, extremely tentatively I’ve added 50 internet “friends” (such a strong word for such a light connection.) So that’s now pushing 300 people. And that’s probably what you know, pushing 300, but not beyond that.

And all these people you know, they each know 300, some of which are the same, and some wholly different. And so on through the nation. And I’m sure some groups never come close to each other. Only, 30 years ago, I knew no one outside of NYC, and I knew 200 people there – and that has all changed; as it probably has for nearly everyone. Few go through life with the same people. And in all of this I – and most likely you too – have had enormous leeway to do stuff, say things, go places, make money, spend money, have a good time, and even a car wreck or two or something, and not to mention whatever illness one might have had. And it runs smoothly doesn’t it?

It’s amazing to me how I can glide through life with nary a cross word with anyone – until, well, until someone goes ahead an accuses me of wrecking the nation because the 300 people who know me actually like me. And one thing I always find myself doing is just not caring what someone does or says, even if it “displeases” me. It never occurs to me to chastise someone, or make their lives miserable by calling them names. I remember Reagan’s greatest dictum: “There he goes again!”

Really, now, who cares, so long as we are pleasant and recognize the foibles of others. For I’m sure any could find fault in all manner of things we do. And I’m sure they too hold their tongue; well, most of them do. Those that don’t, they are just unpleasant. But of late far too many have gotten offended at what someone says. I don’t know, maybe being a gay guy has give me such a thick crust that I don’t feel the barbs anymore; and if someone says something about what I say I just go “Oh, I’m sorry, just being an individual, sorry if that offends, but it is the point of the country, you know.”

Here, me on a good day, with my thick crust against all criticism:

It’s equally amazing that people who agree on the same results in the abstract “a good society” disagree so vehemently that they call the other person “dangerous,” “Idiot!” “evil” and on and on through the glossary of nastiness that English provides. Pick a favorite; everyone does.

But yet, when we are not all required to agree, it works. But when we are all required to agree, things turn sour, they get nasty, people try to escape the control, others pettifog every darn thing. In other words: individual chaos breeds a civil nation, while individual conformity brings a mess, which only gets worse as the conformity dictates increase.

We are now entering a political time of ever quickening conformity to one set of rules out of the president’s mind. And we are going to have a string of one term president’s if the political attitude doesn’t change. Which means we’ll have a continual churning over of laws and policies, tax amounts and rules, and executive orders repealing this or that, and others granting waivers to this or that law.

Which about, if one can grant waivers to laws to some – why not just waive the law for all – and give some sort of policy option that says you can do a, b, c, or d – choose one. Like a menu, or a buffet. I joked, with much seriousness, years ago, that the tax form should have a page with oh, 50 program areas listed on it. Say you had a tax bill of $250. And you had to give, say, $1 to each, for your “fair” share of course, you could designate the other, say, $4 per program you would have for each if not given the choice, in any combo to any of the 50 areas. So that if you were strong in national defense you could give $200 to the Pentagon. And if you were strong in the arts you could give $200 to that. And if you were all for social welfare programs you could give your $200 for that.

And in this way, you would pay your taxes but feel that it actually went to something you wanted. And not for something you disagreed with. If given the chance you could indeed say: Don’t spend my tax dollars on the arts! And that program area wouldn’t get it.

And the budget might actually be a bit different. I think we’d find very quickly what some people wanted to pay for and what they did not. I think we would find a whole new way of looking at the divisions – for you would pay for what you want, and I would pay for what I want. And if some program area got few bucks, oh well, that’s democracy in action.

Instead we get pacifists who are angry at paying for defense and gun nuts upset they pay for welfare – let them allocate their funds the way they wish; and let the government follow the wishes of the people by seeing exactly where they want their money spent.

And that’s not healing our divisions, and it’s not hiding our divisions, but it is ignoring our divisions so that we might form a more perfect union from a lot of different opinions instead of bleating how some other basically nice citizen just wants their tax dollars spent a bit differently. Like an individual ought to have a right to do.

Here’s how I envision my life and the way I get through it everyday, in a very visual format:

Yes, Virginia, that is a very workable maze I painted. I paint lots of mazes, I do.


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