And not the kind you learned in Math classes.
We walk every day at the local park because without two walks a day, Maverick is unbearable to live with. I adore him. I am old and he is not. He needs more exercise than I can give him and the 2.5 miles around the park combined with endless sniffing of every blade of grass and tree, seems to take the edge off that energy to the point where I can actually enjoy his company in the evening.
(Except when he barks like the hounds of hell are outside my front door, which he’s been doing tonight, thank you very much)
(No, there is most likely not an axe murderer out there but can we be sure?)
I digress. We meet the same group of people at the park pretty much every day. Some want to pet Maverick, some wave, some scurry by as if he’s a holy terror. Sometimes we stop and chat with a particularly friendly sort.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen a young girl pushing her child in a stroller while listening to something through earbuds. She’s a chatter, she loves to pet Maverick, doesn’t mind when he jumps up, has a lovely Irish lilt and has always seemed very pleasant.
Till tonight. She mentioned that she loves to read, and since I do as well, I asked what type of books she reads. She said nonfiction, and then commented that she has a degree in Political Science. I said, “you must be enjoying yourself these days” because it seems to me that anyone with that interest would be fascinated with the things going on.
She replied that she “didn’t think Biden was the right man for President, but he was infinitely better than Trump.”
When someone says something like this, I ask them this question – “do you like Biden or do you hate Trump?” She reponded that it was both, and then said, ‘not one of Trump’s supporters voted for his policies, every one of them voted for their cult leader.”
I was taken aback. I said, “that’s not true.” She demanded to know if I supported children in cages? Did I not realize that he’d been inciting violence for four years? Did I not know this was the cleanest election ever held?
Every time I started to speak, she talked over me. Several times I said, “Please let me finish my sentence” to no avail. At one point I said I wasn’t an idiot, and she responded that yes, I was.
I told her to go look up the interview where the Lt. Governor of Texas talks about why they didn’t use Dominion voting machines, and we walked away.
First, she will never pet Maverick again. You don’t call me an idiot and then expect to love up on my dog.
But deeper than that, I walked away and started thinking about the divisions in this country. According to her, it’s all Trump’s fault, all the fault of his supporters. This is not the first time I’ve tried to have a conversation with someone who hates him. In every single case, I have been shouted down, talked over, and eventually called names. I don’t claim to be perfect, and if I did, I’m sure there are many who would offer evidence otherwise. I do, however, try to listen to people. I’m one of the youngest of a very large family, and I’ve experienced more than my share of being talked over and interrupted – it’s something that I hate so I try very hard not to do it to others. I’m also aware that there’s always more than one side to every story so I may not agree with you, but I’ll hear you out and try to reason with you. I’ll never call you an idiot for your views (unless it’s about flexi-leads and then there’s just no holding me back. Or doodles. Don’t get me started on high priced mutts)
I have many friends on both sides of the fence. When my conservative friends get together, the conversation is almost always the same as what I experienced tonight. We are shouted down, talked over, told we’re idiots or better yet, Nazis. (Here’s a clue, if there were really 75 million Nazis in this country, I’m betting you wouldn’t be talking over me at the park, or even free to walk in that park)
And yet we’re responsible for the division. When did it become okay to stop listening to anyone, to think that he who shouts the loudest is the one who gets to be right, that it’s okay to just yell over anyone you don’t like and insult them?
I don’t know how to fix this. I’m going to start walking away from anyone who interrupts me. Will that do any good? Probably not but I won’t have to be annoyed that they’re talking over me.