Consideration, respect, and common courtesy seem to be missing elements in the current political landscape. My mailbox has seen its share of political advertisements and most are declarations of the opponent’s inability to intake oxygen. The glossy flyers warn about the mayhem and permanent damage a mouth-breathing knuckle-dragger might create if elected. The better ideas, the why I should vote for the sponsor of the ad, are conveniently left out. I treat all such junk mail with the care it deserves and file it in the recycling bin.
I ingested a three-minute segment of a televised debate where two candidates attempted to out-talk and out-interrupt one another, and I felt deep sadness. My mind transported back to Mrs. Wingate’s tenth grade U.S. history class at Saint Albans High School. Mrs. Wingate loved her country, loved her country’s history, and loved to share her knowledge with students who opted to listen. She explained the meaning behind the label that the United States is a “great melting pot”. People left home and sometimes family to travel to the United States. They brought their language, traditions, ideas, and abilities, and they determined to make a new home. They applied themselves to becoming a contributing part of the whole, and sought the best interests of their new nation. Sacrifice, compromise, caring for neighbors, respect for others, and acceptance of differences–those were the actions of people who left their individual pasts to sail together into the future.
Folks, the only way stew comes out right is if the parts–the potatoes, the carrots, the tomatoes, the onions, the peppers, the spices, and the meat–bump into one another and mix it up with each ingredient contributing its uniqueness. Certainly the ingredients could be cooked in separate pots and eaten standalone, but what they create together rocks the dinner table. Blow the dust off your history book and review the record. This nation, this mixture of people from so many lands, has done incredible things.
Have we forgotten that our country is a melting pot? Somewhere along the journey we’ve become a collection of screaming groups each trying to out-shout the other and each demanding their own way on every issue. Talking has displaced listening. The spirit of compromise has been extinguished by dogmatic rigidity.
My co-worker from years ago was a thorn in my flesh. Our views on most any topic were as separate as the poles of a magnet, and he excelled at getting under my skin. One day I decided to listen to him rather than argue. I discovered that his ideas gave me food for thought. That experience taught me the need for leadership on both sides of the issues to keep us from drifting off course in either direction.
For those of you seeking public office, we the people know things in our country can be and must be better. We know the time has passed for posturing and finger pointing. We need you to get together, to learn from each other, and to work as a team to create solutions. Please, stop the mud-slinging, the character assassinations, and the political archaeology of digging up missteps from years ago. Can one of us declare there is nothing in our past we would change if given the chance?
We are hoping you have the mettle to build bridges rather than chasms. We’re hoping you have the recipe for the delectable stew that can only be created in the melting pot.