In her new book, Bittersweet, bestselling author and speaking Susan Cain narrates a story that took place during the civil war that left Sarajevo a shell of its former beauty.
A journalist/correspondent watches as close to 50,000 displaced people emerge from a forest after escaping an attack.
The correspondent asks an elderly man if he is a Muslim or a Croat.
“I am a musician,” the man responds.
I have written little during these days of extreme political polarity, little because so many are writing so much about it, little because I can do so little about it.
At least, that is how I often feel.
But is it true?
The journalist who asked the question was haunted by the man’s response years afterward. Haunted and humbled.
“I am a musician.”
And me? I am no musician, but I am a thinker. I am a poet. I am a highly sensitive person.
I grieve at the polarity and the tension, the anger that runs hot and the lack of true dialog and discourse and understanding between one side and the other.
How quickly anger and disrespect can turn to violence.
Is this what we are waiting for?
Is this what we want?
I believe that some people think so, but these must be those who do not truly think it through, just how much damage can be done in such a short amount of time.
And how such damage is, in most cases, irrevocable.
It cannot be undone.
Am I a Republican or a Democrat?
No, I am not.
And I feel that we have done and are doing a great disservice to a nation and to its peoples and to the deep and nuanced issues we face as its people by thinking that we can so easily cut any one matter into just two sides …
And assume that a person must stand so easily on one side or the other.
And assume that if a person feels strongly about one thing that is considered a Republican value, then they must feel the same about every single thing that is pushed forward by the Republican agenda …
And the same for the Democrats.
How simplistic and shallow we must be if we think that everything cuts so cleanly, so surgically, and falls so easily to one side or the other.
What if, instead, we chose different words in our dialog?
Claimed different words for ourselves and our beliefs?
Are you a Republican or a Democrat?
I am a musician. I am a poet. I am a highly sensitive person.
I am a teacher. I am a lover. I am a parent.
I am a human, a feeler, a thinker, a believer.
Are you not as well?