Most of us have been taught not to discuss religion or politics at the table. (Where almost all discussions in our house happened.) I’m sure this was passed down to my parents as a way to preserve polite virtues and not as a way to keep ideas and social progress suppressed. But it made us ill equipped to be able to have thoughtful discussions and work together for the common good. And I loath confrontation which is another reason (besides the perception of being rude for discussing it openly) why politics has been a subject I avoid at all possible. It’s so much noise to me and really makes me sad and anxious, but we have to talk about it. It took a while for me to understand that just because I disagree with someone does not make them evil, required for me to hate them, or not be able to be friends. If we are constantly thrust together with people who agree with EVERYTHING we think and have the exact SAME world view then we are doomed. We are doomed to become a stagnant and potentially dangerously divided society.
I’ve noticed there is a perception of distance from the Supreme Court Justice hearings and subsequent confirmation to our every day lives other than the two high emotion empathy camps of #mentoo and #believesurvivors. I’ve been thinking about different ways to view it all so it becomes more relatable and accessible to me on a community level instead of on a personal level by putting myself in the accused or survivors’ shoes.
Let’s say I am a part of a Home Owners Association. My HOA has two separate sub-associations comprised of people who live on Sidewalk Street and those who live on Culdesac Circle. They have different views and issues, but they both want what is best for the neighborhood. My current HOA president is a habitant of Sidewalk Street. As part of his presidential duties he gets to nominate someone for a LIFETIME position as landscape architect for the neighborhood. He has nominated a man with adequate education and experience. We will have a hearing/ interview to determine if we want to hire this man for this position- a position that he can only be relieved of by dying. He would be a permanent fixture of the neighborhood and we would not be able to hire anyone else until he dies. It would stand to reason that because our sitting president (part of Sidewalk Street) nominated him that preferential service would be given to the houses on Sidewalk Street. Sidewalk Street would probably end up with the greenest grass and lushest shrubs.
During our hearing/interview not one, not two, but THREE women came forward to say they have been abused by this man. Is it our job to prosecute him? No. Is it our job to bring justice? No. Is it our job to continue our interview to see if he’s fit and deserving to serve in this position in our neighborhood for life? Yes.
I am not going to vote for him. I do not want someone accused of abuse by multiple, well-adjusted and upstanding citizens deciding how my neighborhood looks for the rest of his life. I don’t want the dude running around my neighborhood making decisions that affect my life even if it means my grass is greener. And then when questioned over the accusations, he becomes unhinged and combative. If he acts this way from light pressure to delve into his past, how do we think he’ll act if he has to make decisions he personally doesn’t agree with regarding the landscaping requirements of our HOA agreement? When asked about an accusation or difficult topic, the innocent and level- headed do not repetitively scream back at the questioner, “But do YOU drink and grope?! I know you are, but what am I?”
This process now becomes more than a squabble about the grass on Sidewalk Street or Culdesac Circle, but what is best for the whole neighborhood. Culdesac Circle is not forever pitted against any decisions made by Sidewalk Street or vice versa. The respective parts of the HOA do not always vote against each other on some ignorant Hatfield/McCoy principle. We should be a more advanced neighborhood than that.
Is the landscape architect qualified by his education? Yes. Can he still work as a landscape architect somewhere else? Yes. He can remain at his current job even. Will him being denied this position ruin his career or life? No. He’s a white man: he’ll still work and live within his status. Is he fit to serve our community for life with a past peppered with allegations of abuse or current exhibited juvenile temperament? Probably not. Say all three of these women are somehow mistaken or lying, should we even chance it? No. They’ve risked their status in the community and have had their lawns vandalized to come forward out of public duty. It is unlikely all three willingly risk their reputations, careers, and family if they are not certain.
Can our HOA president nominate someone else who would probably still give preference to Sidewalk Street? Yes. There are literally a ton of other equally qualified, equally polarized, Sidewalk Street leaning, extremely white men to choose from who probably have more experience, a cleaner background, and more composed psyche. Would we have a separate hearing/interview for that person to see if they are fit to have this job bestowed on them too? Yes.
The gravity of a service job that lasts your entire life demands an adequate and in depth interview by the public no matter what. Having the proper education and experience and being fit to serve are two completely different things and you can be adequately qualified but unfit to serve. And yet, here we are.
The importance of voting for those that will adequately represent us is now DEFCON level 1. Midterm elections are coming.