We have opinions on everything here.
And our general consensus is opinions are good, in fact, they are important. Opinions lead to ideas and improvements and a better society.
Opinions are, after all, an expression of concern, that things are better another way or better the way they are. They mean we care how things turn out. And caring is good. Thinking about how things turn out is good.
We believe we need opinions. And we believe it’s good , in fact, maybe even a responsibility, to voice these opinions.
And we do. Sometimes with words, sometimes with actions, sometimes just in private to people we know and trust, sometimes in public to anyone who will listen and even to people who will not.
We argue with each other a lot about these opinions….because we are a diverse and large group. And diverse large groups don’t always see everything the same way. Diversity of experience, of culture.
Sometimes, too many times, when we argue, it’s not in the most mature or productive of ways. We get too mean, too personal, too hyped-up on indignation or a desire to be right. We manipulate facts or make things up. We excuse our own bad behavior by saying “We all do it.”
We cross lines. We disrespect each other.
We lose sight of what we’re trying to do or who we’re trying to be.
We come back, though, to this one thing we all agree on: that we, since we’re humans, should decide our own fate.
We agree humans aren’t designed, by their Creator or their biology or however each of us sees it, to be ruled over or dictated to.
We believe in representation, in our opinions being the basis of the laws that we all agree to live by .
We agree there are some things everyone gets because everyone deserves them- life, liberty, a chance to pursue happiness, and basic fundamental freedoms –
And everything else? Well, we agree to a process where opinions are heard and hashed out and may the best opinion win.
And if it doesn’t, we respect the law and try again next time.
That is our social contract: the rule of law, the respect for the process, respect for the reality of democracy and a democractic society:
It’s never perfect and it’s never done.
So we come back after all the mudslinging and the negativity. We come back after all the pushing of values and the spinning of statements. The complaining and the “if one more guy calls me about a candidate I’m gonna….” passes, and we come back….
And we get ourselves to schools and churches and community centers and we see our neighbors and we see strangers.
And we become “We” again.
And there We mingle with the spirits of the We that came before:
We the civil rights activists beaten and murdered.
We the suffragettes thrown in jail and ostracized.
We the soldiers killed in battle far from anything resembling home.
We who all fought the same oppressive voice, the one that said “I want to silence you.”
We who said every time with heroic effort: “Helllllll, no.”
And so we go to these places and we get to honor that greater We. We get to be part of it – of a people who decide for themselves. A people who don’t descend into chaos when political opinions change.
We get democracy, imperfect and incomplete. We get to pursue that “more perfect union”.
We get to be free.
And we go and do that thing which, more than anything else, makes us who We are.