Wing nuts hold things together. I heard that quote while watching a heated debate. The man who quoted it was an extremist defending some of his extreme opinions.
That adage made great sense to me since I am an extremist, too. At least, others keep informing me that I am one.
For instance, a friend recently said that it would be okay if I purposely stayed quiet with some of my thoughts while meeting with others in a group setting. Meanwhile Dennis, (my husband), often tells me that I'm getting a little carried away with something or other. At one time such critical comments popped all my balloons. At this stage in my life, though, they are like helium. I really get going and I might even talk in a squeaky high-pitched voice.
Dennis is the opposite of me. He takes his time, asks questions from people he trusts, and makes calculated decisions. I decide quickly, read about three 'how-to' books written by strangers, move forward with confidence that I know exactly what I'm doing, and then end up making so many u-turns I get sick and have to stop. Together, though, we do find a nice balance. He gives me stability and I challenge him to move outside his comfort zone.
I believe some of us are called to turn in endless circles. Others are made to be the sturdy frame, the hardworking engine, the highly functioning fuel, etc. It takes many components, working in tandem, to make machinery run. Knowing this has helped me accept my place on the larger unit.
It isn't easy being a nut. But, then again, I suspect it isn't easy being an engine or a frame either. At least I'm not the windshield. Imagine getting hit by all those bugs; and with all our gravel roads and rocks?!
To be a good nut, you have to be an odd combination of vulnerable and thick-skinned. What I mean by vulnerable is: you need to be, and remain, open enough to share your thoughts and beliefs freely and passionately.
You also need to be very tough, as well. Some common reactions to us 'wing-nuts' include: eye rolling and open mocking; a blank, glossy eyed look followed by an immediate change of subject; or a strong challenge in the other direction lobbed right back.
Don't be fooled by the head nod and flattery. Particularly if it is followed up by a suave segue into another topic of discussion. That type often prefers to dismiss you when you aren't there to hear it. Given that they view you as odd or off, you likely scare them a little. You'll find out later what they really thought when a friend lets it slip that so-and-so, whom you thought you had really impressed, actually thought you were nuts. As any grammarian, editor, or English teacher knows, one wing nut needs another wing nut to truly be considered nuts.
But, grammatical errors have been around a long time. So have the divisions, slander, dismissing of one another, and ill will amongst us human beings. However, either I'm becoming a curmudgeon, or the arguing has escalated. The divides between us regard subjects like food production, religion, education, politics, economics, and family values. And the debates aren't confined to the big city. They can be overheard at the street dances, the coffee shops, and the implement dealers here in Rural America.
I don't wish to get specific about any one topic; that would put me over my given word limit. Rather, I'll just generalize and bring up the obvious.
Generally speaking, we do still need each other; and one another's opinions, theories, knowledge, abilities, and beliefs. It's how we find balance, in good times and bad. More importantly, it is how we make the whole machine work.
So, please remember this maxim the next time you encounter one of us extremists: wing nuts hold things together. (And we need to be turned about now and then, too.)
Therefore it's best to challenge us directly. We actually prefer that reaction to patronizing or eye rolling! Be respectful, but don't just tell us what we want to hear. Tell us what you really think. After all, that's all we're doing - calling it exactly as we see it. We just see some things differently. Hey, you might even spin us completely around to your way of thinking, and we'll thank you for it later.
Other times, unless you happen to have a full can of WD-40 in your back pocket, t - there's no budging us.
Andrea Beyers lives in Roscoe. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org