In this season of togetherness and hopes for humanity let me say that I would appreciate it if everyone would just back off with the strident “you gotta choose sides” stuff.
I don’t want to choose sides on a lot of things, but these days that’s all you see and hear: Choose a side. Take a stand. Draw a line in the sand.
Whatever happened to the idea of live and let live?
There are many things that are important to me. But that doesn’t mean I feel compelled to take sides on everything or respond to every poll that pops up on TV or my computer screen.
Let me have a little ambivalence in my life.
Sometimes, taking sides has unintended consequences; what is good for one person or group is a disaster for another.
So I decided I don’t have to like whatever social media says is trending.
I don’t have to be a fan of a certain kind of music or hate another kind. I’m perfectly happy disliking most of it, especially the chaotic loud stuff.
America is where I was born, and I have been in enough other countries to know this is the best place for me and I hope to stay here until they make a clay pot out of my ashes. I served in the military, vote and pay my taxes. If that makes me a patriot, I’m a patriot.
But I don’t hate the person who kneels during traditional patriotic ceremonies to keep my patriot label. The fact that someone else cares enough to want to make something better makes them a critic, and might even make them wrong or downright obnoxious, but it doesn’t mean they are a danger to liberty; as I see it, they’re kneeling, but standing for something. That’s American enough for me and I don’t want to choose sides beyond that.
I don’t like the idea of abortion, but I choose to mind my own business on really personal decisions. My own life is complicated enough without feeling obliged to make personal decision for others.
Having said all that, the question may arise, how do I justify my choice to be journalist, let alone an opinion page columnist?
In simplest terms, it is the one thing I cannot abide; one thing that compels me to speak up, write, and even risk breaking up social gatherings. My biggest flaw is an inability to stand mute in a world awash in hypocrisy.
Which brings us to the hearings on impeaching President Donald Trump. The carnival going on now in Washington is just the face of the great American addiction for self-delusion.
Somehow our national culture is to celebrate entertainment over all else. The more coarse, cheap, and rough and tumble, the better. If there’s no dirt track racing, read the President’s tweets. No cage fighting or other blood sport? Watch the ginned-up outrage of conservative Republicans decrying the lack of evidence in the impeachment hearings while supporting their hero’s orders to staff to respond to subpoenas to testify.
If Karl Marx went too far in saying that religion is the opium of the people, P.T. Barnum was closer to the cynical edges of truth when he said there’s a sucker born every minute — and he wasn’t in politics. He was in show business. But then, so is Donald Trump.
But the partisans sure know how to push people to choose sides.
If it’s up to me, send them all home to find jobs in the burger-flipping industry that they think is a real economy, and let the kids run the country. The Danish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, told some tough truths while touring the world to become Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Some criticized her for that.
It was like she stole Trump’s toys.
Dean Minnich was a career journalist who also served two terms in elected office. His column appears Thursdays. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.