A Gesture Can Bring Us Together

An Inviting Gesture

Has a friend ever made a gesture to you, asking you to lean in and listen? It usually means he or she has something important to say or, at least, a reminder you need to hear.

Consider this blog a gesture, a summons, for you to lean in and listen.

A Nation Pulled Apart

It is obvious that our nation is facing struggles almost too numerous to list. I’ve listened to many who tell me they are worried and distraught over the political rancor of the day. They worry, too, that our nation’s institutions may not hold, our future is uncertain, and they cannot pay attention any longer. They are so angry they are beginning to be filled by a newfound hate.

Consider what pulls us apart. We may disagree. We may have different perspectives and values and priorities. We become opponents over something that may seem trivial to others yet be mountains of concern to us. Politics is no different than this and it pushes and pulls leaders apart. Today’s politics, especially, is so divided that common ground dissolves and mutual respect is trampled underfoot.

Gestures Reassure And Heal Us

As a public we look at body language and seek a gesture or two that may comfort us. Consider the picture here wherein Gorbachev and Bush shake hands. Mikhail Gorbachev spoke of his friendship with George H.W. Bush in a recent Time magazine article. The handshake gesture goes beyond protocol or a political nicety. These are two world leaders and two friends who respected each other. They touched as the world watched and both nations, recently experiencing mutual discord, began to heal. The gesture mattered.

121218 Gorbachev

Brief Gestures Express A Lot

Diane Walker, Time’s magazine White House photographer captured a gesture between friends that speaks volumes. You see Bush touching Clinton in a moment of camaraderie that is filled with warmth and caring. It’s a touch that brings two once-upon-a-time adversaries, together.

121218 Bush and Clinton

A gesture can be brief, as they often are, but it can sometimes set us on a new course and help us gain healthier perspectives. They are sometimes subconscious choices that contradict our own anguish and worry as we reset our personal compasses.

Areas Of National Concern

I, too, sometimes become frustrated with our current politics. My frustration may not be yours but we probably share similar feelings. In my case, I am eager for our political parties to serve the people first and let political party loyalty be secondary. That’s a long step away from reality yet it is sorely needed.

There are a couple of concerns I have:

  1. Congressional rules: Watch any legislature, be it the one in Washington or in your own state. Is the culture healthy, enjoying a give-and-takeof ideas to find compromise for the benefit of all constituents? Or do you witness gamesmanship that favors a political party over mature and sane governance? Too often it is the former and not the latter. It occurs often enough that I hear people despair over the validity of even having a Senate, for example (See Andy Campbell’s article about Senator John Dingell). The congressional institution is called into question. Knee-jerk reactions emerge further confounding the governing process.
  2. Political party over citizens: I advocate for a proportional voting approach (Equal Voice Voting) in our presidential elections. Legislators, who enjoy a majority in their state, express worry that the approach will be unfairfor their political party. They see it as a forfeiture of the total control of the electoral vote result.

The question becomes: Unfair for whom? Equal Voice Voting rests on the premise of all votes count and every state matters. It puts country first, fixing a winner-takes-all voting mechanism. Many ignore the malady and hope to remedy it with the National Popular Vote bill. It’s an approach that fails to recognize the problem in favor of securing an immediate voting consequence. They fail, in their urgency, to recognize that Equal Voice Voting, too, can secure victory for the popular vote winner.

Political Parties Must Put Country First

It’s time for political parties to once again refocus on good governance, reach across the aisle, and make a trusting gesture. We need to listen to the wisdom shared on the recent funeral morning.

Much of the nation watched as eulogies were given over President George H. W. Bush’s casket. Former Republican Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, eulogized his friend George H. W. Bush. He quoted Bush as he said, “When the really tough choices come, it’s the country, not me, it’s not about Democrats or Republicans, it’s for our country that I fought for.”

The formality of a funeral did not disrupt the of the moment or the call for all of us to set aside differences. These few speakers were, that day, not Republican or Democrat. They were and are friends. The gestures of respect and caring tell us that. In their grieving, these gestures help us heal.

A Gesture Of Humor Heals Our Anger

Then Senator Simpson added another gesture to remember, “Humor is a universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life.” In our moments of grief and in the anger that sometimes rises, we must remember to use that universal solventto ease our rancor. Tender humor helps ease the pain we all feel.

Senator Simpson further shared with us some wisdom from his mother, advising all of us that, “Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.” Let’s be mindful of that. Let’s consider the gestures we use and be mindful of the messages they send. Let’s not let this nation, this democratic ideal, be corroded by an ill-begotten hate none of us enjoy or deserve.

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