Friday, August 19, 2011

SLAP! Now Shut Up and Listen.

A while ago I slapped Oprah, under the guise of her NOT being the boss of me, but here’s a secret you might already know:  Oprah IS the boss of me. Anytime I poke fun at her or her staff of writers I’m mostly just acting like a toddler…angling for negative attention from her over NO attention from her. (To date, the latter form of attention is all I’ve managed to garner. Sad really.)

Let me out myself: I drink her Kool-aid. I can’t help it. It’s delicious.

On we go. In the September issue of “O” there is an article detailing “A Month of Makeovers” and one of them (number 14 to be exact, on page 187) is called TAKE YOUR DEMONS TO LUNCH. I could have so much fun with that one on a Tuesday. Why isn’t it Tuesday??

Here’s what it says:

“’Otherising’ is the dangerous act of turning someone into the enemy just because he or she looks different, prays different, speaks different, or thinks different. Some of history’s most tragic events- wars, genocides, terrorist acts- began with ordinary people demonizing other ordinary people.”

I read this last night as I was watching the other boss of me, Jon Stewart, recap some of the headlines he’d picked to show how a certain political party (and/or its most vocal pundits) were calling for an economy fix…it went as you imagine it might. And by the end my blood was boiling. I was taking deep breaths and trying not to hate humanity as a whole and then Oprah threw some Kool-aid on my face and I came back to reality.

I “otherise” all the freaking time.

It’s how it happens to me that I see a FORMER politician who I once hated, on a talk show of some sort…perhaps one that’s been recently retired…and find myself really liking them now that they’re not in a position of control, now that they can speak their feelings and true thoughts versus those of a party line or path to re-election.

Can you guess which person
I didn't like at the beginning?

I do this when I’m confronted with any person whose beliefs are fundamentally different from mine…or even a person whose public actions are different from mine. The reality is that I think, most of the time, we really do have a common goal. Except in the case of psychopaths, I believe the usual person desires the same thing as me: acceptance, dignity, compassion and happiness.

So the author of this 14th makeover moment suggests that we take our foil to lunch. With ground rules: be curious, conversational, and real. Don’t persuade or interrupt. Listen, listen, listen.

You’re kind of already doing this.

When you read a blog, article or news item of any kind you’re taking a moment to listen without interruption to another person’s ideas. If you disagree it’s not the worst thing in the world. If you agree then it was a pleasant exchange. Either way you move on.

Most of the time we can have engaging conversation with our friends about topics upon which we disagree. And we stay friends…so why can’t we be civil to those whose opinions oppose ours? “I don’t want to see your demise, I just think there’s a different way” does emphatically NOT mean, “I hate you and I wish you were dead.” The two ideas are completely different but what we hear when an “Other” speaks is the second statement. And what they hear when we talk is the same sentence parroted back.

But I don’t believe either of us is saying that.

I’m a dye in the wool Democrat. I can’t help it, it’s just who I am. My heart bleeds for those around me though most people mistakenly perceive me to be “hard.” My father tells me that someday I’ll wise up and change my views, as he believes the policy of “Democrat” is one of immaturity. We have an argument every single time we broach any subject that can lead to politics…and washing the dishes can lead us down that path. So okay, maybe someday when my resources are closing in and I don’t have 30+ years of money making potential in my future, I’ll change sides and decide it’s time to keep that “wealth” in my own pocket.

And since a load of people in this population are that demographic of non-earners (in this particular example), I should listen to their opinion…because they have a right to be heard and to be respected. They DID work, they ARE out of time and energy and they DO deserve to keep what they have. But I have the right to give mine away; knowing there is more to be made.

So what works? A conversation and a compromise that begins only when we calmly, rationally and compassionately interact with one another.

No shouting, no banners, no megaphones...who brings a megaphone to lunch?

Photos:,, also for the "I drink her Kool-aid" reference. Oprah makes Kool-aid?

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