Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Around these parts, we have a new tradition for the holiday, we beat the heck out of each other with pillows; it’s so fun. The news is cycling through what is now the same old stories – Republican jockeying for position, Obama trying to please the majority, and a tangled ball of religion, birth control, women’s issues, and gay rights. It does seem like control over women and traditional family roles are central to much of the discussions. One side wants to fight to preserve a traditional nuclear family where the man of the house calls the shots, the other wants to live in the present where the head of household can be of any gender and is free to make choices for themselves. It is easy to understand why we all sometimes want to lash out or beat our head against the wall. Sometimes the other side seems so far away that talking to them is impossible. I call for a national pillow fight.
Imagine a Republican debate that ends in a pillow fight, or even better, a congressional session. It would be wonderful! Pillow fights are a great analogy to civil debate. Can you imagine Romney getting whomped upside the head and mussing his hair, imagine the release when Pelosi gets pegged with puff. Notice how everyone in this local pillow fight is smiling; when youngsters took a fall, a hand was immediately there to assist them up. Even if a shot blindsided someone and knocked them off balance, they knew that it was all in good fun, the lighthearted attitude persisted. Of course, I am suggesting a fair fight here with fluffy pillows and good sportsmanship – no smuggled 2x4s, no shanks – just a person and their pillow against all others. Our frustrations with our friends are expressed just as the frustrations with our enemies is.
We do get angsty and twisted up in our own perspectives and own problems. It is very hard to see things walking in someone else’s shoes – especially if we have no interest in getting anywhere near that person’s shoes. The chasm between cultures in our country can make us feel hopeless. We’ve gotten out of the habit in this country of expecting or behaving civily. We use words as daggers, point fingers like knives, and are not satisfied with a small disagreement – our culture loves to manufacture a “total outrage”. We are so quick to foam at the mouth against our favorite enemy. Every political conversation will not lead to major policy change, I would not even expect any “aha” moments from your opponents conceding to you. The point of this pillow fight suggestion is that we all have to learn to lighten up and take ourselves less seriously. Any one person is never going to get everything the way that they want it, so a healthy release – with real pillows or the soft battle of civil words – is needed on a regular basis. You don’t have to be a college professor, you don’t even have to be terribly up to date on current events, just using your ingrained values is enough for a friendly verbal spar.We need to disarm; every contest is not to the death, how you play the game matters. Remember: we are all in this country together.