Thank you, Andy, for this lovely reflection “And a small cupcake will guide them.” I made pancakes this morning and pondered this story and its applicability. I’m estranged from my church community right now–at my own hand–but I realized the weariness Andy speaks of can be broadly applied. I’m weary of fighting. As I’ve told a few members of my congregation, I have three teenaged daughters–I find very little spiritual revitalization by going to church to fight more. This story reminded me of what I can do to create the change I wish to see. I think the term to be applied here is “interrupting” unwanted or anitsocial behavior. Cupcakes are hard to carry around–perhaps this is why old women carry hard candy. “Lifesaver, dear?” can be a really good interrupter.
Beyond my own church issues, though, I have been wondering if we Liberals (insert Progressive here if that’s what you prefer), are drowning agains the Tea Party wave because we keep doing what we always do: reason. The facts are pretty plain and have no bearing, it appears, on anything Michelle Bachman or Rick Perry have to say about government. But we keep rattling off facts and historical data as if that is going to change the mind of one person who truly believes the earth is 6,000 years old and that the founders of our country fought to their deaths against slavery.
While cupcakes are lovely, the real question is (and was raised beautifully by Andy) how do we engage with people again on a human-to-human level? How do we interrupt antisocial behavior that allows us to call each other names (stupid or fascist or anti-patriotic, for example) without engaging in the same, exact behavior?
We watched The Pricess Bride for the umpteenth-thousandth time last weekend and it reminded me of something I would like to say to the people who follow the Tea Party manifesto if I had a national platform to speak from: “These words you are using, I do not think they mean what you think they mean.”
I am naive about U.S. history, I will tell you that. I’m grateful that my daughters have grasped an interest and understanding of history in a way that I never did (American history was taught as an exercise in memorizing dates and men’s names and my memory has never been all that responsive to either of those things). But here’s one thing I did/do retain: that the original Boston Tea Party was not about “No Taxation,” it was about “No taxation WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.”
We have never waged a war before without raising taxes. To not raise taxes to cover the costs of the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years is not just illogical, it is, I argue, immoral. We must pay for these wars, and, more importantly, pay for the physcial and mental care our troops require. When legislators sign pledges that say they will never raise taxes, they are, in essence, saying they refuse to govern. Saying no to everything is not governing –any more than saying yes to everything is parenting.
What cupcakes do we have to offer the Tea Party people we meet in our daily life (and I recognize that not everyone who may read this is a Liberal or Progressive–but I am saying the following specifically to those who are Liberal or Progressive and who are tired of trying to argue against irrationality–it just doesn’t work says the mother of three teenage daughters who become hormonally irrational once each and every month)? So let me ask again, what can we do to interrupt antisocial behavior and explore our shared humanity in hopes of broadening not only their mindset, but our own?
I’m tired of the fight. I’m tired of the desire to hide from the fight. What I need are tools to help me do what Andy has done so well in this story. How do we stop that which puts walls between us and begin to build bridges that explore our collective responsibility?