Sunday, January 9, 2011

Duuuuudes, chill!

I'm very disturbed by the tone of rhetoric in our country.  I've been thinking about this for a long while.  I know I'm showing my age, but I remember a time when our elected officials would stand up on the floor of the House or the Senate and say things like, "With all due respect to my esteemed colleague from the great state of Tennessee, I could not disagree more."  Now it seems that we would rather scream at each other than listen and try to understand.  We all have gotten so entrenched in the belief that our truth is the only truth, our way is the only way.

I know everyone thinks that lawyers can I put this politely?...the south ends of north-bound horses.  But I have to say that as lawyers, we are trained to go into litigation or negotiation and fight to the death, in (usually) a very civilized way, and then go have a beer together after.  We don't take it personally.  We know that there are many sides of every story, many viewpoints, many truths.  (If you think of truth as having a capital "T", as in there is only one Truth, I invite you to talk to numerous witnesses of the same accident or crime.)  I have seen lawyers argue vehemently and loudly in the courtroom, then shake hands and kindly ask about each others' families.  I once witnessed two female lawyers argue so strenuously that I worried at one point it would come to blows, then go to lunch to discuss a concern one of the lawyers had about her children.  I have seen lawyers take time away from their own practices to volunteer to go to court and ask for continuances for a sole practitioner who had a sudden, unexpected health crisis so that his law practice did not fall apart while he was ill.  This, from lawyers who ordinarily were his opponents. 

I'm never going to convince you that lawyers are great people, and that's ok, that's not my goal.  I just want to point out that there are civil ways to disagree.

As if having a lawyer in the family is not enough to heap shame and ridicule on our family, my husband is a lobbyist.  I'm pretty sure "lobbyist" is the only profession more hated than "lawyer."  Mr. Sweetie sometimes amazes me by mentioning what a great guy Senator or Representative So-and-so is.  I'll stammer, "But...but...his political beliefs are the complete opposite of yours."  My husband will laugh and say, "Oh, I disagree with his politics, but he's a great guy!"  Then he'll tell me about So-and-so's integrity, their intelligence, their good-naturedness (if that's a word), their volunteer work, their family.  It seems to me that so many of us are slapping labels on people and discounting them because of this one label--You're a (fill in the blank--Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Feminist, whatever) so you don't count.  I love that the hubs is able to see people in 3D--yes, Senator So-and-so is a Conservative Republican but he is also a husband, a father, a volunteer, a coach, a friend, a helluva nice guy.

From what little I've heard, the shooting in Arizona of the Congresswoman and numerous others was due to mental illness and not a reaction to rhetoric, but still, it amazes me that this country has not seen violent reactions to the rhetoric.  (Maybe we have, I tend to stay away from the news.)  Can't we go back to a time when we could disagree with civility and honor?  Wasn't our country founded on such ideals--"I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" and all that?  Kindergarteners know you have to play well with others, why can't we?  Our lives may depend on it.


Heather said...

LOVE your writing on this post.

You're right... children learn how to get along. They can play in the same sandbox. Why can't so many adults?

rlvd said...

great content in this post-- you should try to publish this one somewhere :)

vintage girl at heart said...

thank goodness..finally someone with a brain!!!
thanks for this..we all needed it and yes you need your own column somewhere....

Milly said...

I love my lawyer and my sista-in-lawyer. I also love my brolobbyist. I'm proud to say you are family.

Good points and good post.

Robin Thomas said...

I respectfully agree with you my distnguished friend. You have a unique perspective on politics and ! have always trusted your fair-mindedness completely. I am very glad you see you writing!