TR 243 - Outside the Bubble
Reflecting on the lessons learned in Washington DC.
The world keeps turning.
“Like sands through an hourglass, these are the days of our lives.”
Getting home after a fast and full trip to the bustling metropolis of the nation’s capital brings a special depth of gratitude. It was nearly midnight when I turned onto the lonely highway that would lead me out to my own little patch of paradise. No street lights. No cars. Just mile after mile of dark, peaceful road.
“No gas for 65 miles” caught my eye. I wondered how many of the people I had just met with, how many people from any big city, have ever seen a sign like that. Some, but few. John Denver’s “Country Roads” was the soundtrack in my mind as I contemplated the vast differences and disconnects between urban and rural America.
It occurred to me that both sides feel like they are in the majority. Could both sides be right? It sounds impossible, but let me explain. When I say “most Americans” what do think? Some people will immediately think about the percentage of the population. Others will think about the majority of the country. That is a huge distinction.
Both sides are right, in some sense, to assume they are in the majority—and I’m still trying to find the right words to express why this is so important. If you think about it, the majority of people voted for Hillary Clinton, but the majority of the country voted for Donald Trump—the contrast and distinction could not be more clear.
People in the cities believe that they are the normal ones, and assume that the majority of people can relate to their experiences. At the same time, people in the country believe that they are the normal ones, and that the majority of the country can relate to their experiences. If both are not wrong, how do we reconcile the two?
That is a critical question when we consider the political divide between us. It is understandable that people in the cities would think and act differently than people in the country, and vice versa. It’s equally as understandable that people in both situations encounter different kinds of problems, and therefore reach different kinds of conclusions. Both have different needs, desires, and ways of doing things.
These differences should be acknowledged, accepted, and even celebrated—or at the very least leveraged to our mutual advantage. There is strength in diversity, in thinking differently, in seeing things from different angles, but only if we can communicate effectively enough to collaborate and maintain mutual respect.
I also know this sort of sappy kumbaya makes some people want to puke.
Bear with me here.
Despite all of these inherent differences, the sun rises and sets on all of us. We all call ourselves Americans, with little thought about the legitimate differences between us. We assume we all want what is best for our country, without realizing that “best” means something different to everybody. At this point, it feels like we are a nation that is hopelessly divided along ideological lines and we really have no way of reconciling these differences.
That’s the problem.
Do you want a future full of perpetual conflict? A future where everyone is always at each other’s throats, ridiculing and attacking people who think differently? That doesn’t sound like much fun to me. That’s not the world I want my kids and grandkids to grow up in. This perpetual conflict is a lose-lose proposition.
Thus, if we cannot figure out how to fix this mess, this political quagmire, we’re destined to destroy what’s left of our great nation and descend into a deplorable living hell wherein neighbors literally hate each other, town and country are increasingly estranged from one another, and the political process only serves to escalate violence.
Again, to be blunt, that sounds like a shitty deal to me. How about you?
So, what are we going to do? Are we going to take back “our” country? If so, how? I’ve said those words a thousand times and I’ve sworn an oath to defend this country that I love from enemies both foreign and domestic—and I will fight to protect the blessings of liberty for my family, friends, and future generations.
But how can I fight and win?
If I walked up and bitch-slapped Mike Tyson for being a dumbass, how do you think that would play out? There is no doubt his superior force and capacity for violence would ultimately win. (On a slightly more subtle level, it would actually be his emotional reaction that destroyed me.)
What if I walked into a honky tonk—the Honky Tonk—and shouted out that everyone there was a bunch of dumb hicks, then turned and walked back out the door. How might that play out? Do you think they’d just take the insult and let me walk away? Or do you think a few of the good old boys would bum rush the door and give me the righteous ass beating that I deserved?
I know how I would handle it.
I love being at the Honky Tonk. I love seeing Willie on the wall. I love the live country music and taking shots while shooting the shit with my friends. I love living in Small Town USA, having dirt on my shirt, living down a dusty gravel road and having a little mud on my tires—and “honey, just because I talk slow doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”
I believe that the majority of the country can relate. In fact, I know that for a fact. I’ve lived in all four corners of this country, driven up and down both coasts and zig-zagged thousands and thousands of miles across the heartland, just to see what was out there. This is not an ignorant or ill-informed conviction.
But I see the other side too.
Bright lights. Big cities. The energy, the excitement, the buzz that comes with being around so many people doing so many things all at once. The ability to find anything you want and have more options than you could possibly need. The big beautiful buildings, the monuments, the chance to meet and mingle with the movers and shakers who are truly giants in their respective fields.
The opportunities found in the cities have an inherent and undeniable appeal. I can understand why the majority of people eventually end up in metropolitan areas.
To each their own.
Part of the discussion in DC was how to use Twitter for political impact. At first, I had to work hard not to laugh out loud. Then I had to swallow my pride and listen. According to the people who know, who are on the ground, in the game, this is how the game is played. The politicians and journalists are using Twitter as their main form of communication—as in, all the cool kids are doing it.
But it’s more than that. These are the people who are shaping public perception and writing public policy. If I truly wanted to get in on the conversation, I would have to learn how to play the game. That’s just the way it works. Personally, I’ve always thought that Twitter was ridiculous—what a waste of f*ing time—but I can assure you, the people who are running our country do not see it that way.
Truth be told, when I announced that I don’t know anybody in town who uses Twitter, and that I could pretty much guarantee that none of my friends are on it, and they never would be, they just laughed. That was about as foreign to them as the fact that I didn’t have the Uber app on my phone—because I figured I would just call a cab.
Which brings up a story…
There was a sweet lady who called every cab company in the capitol before finally convincing me that if I didn’t download Uber, there was no way I was going to make my flight. In other words, I wasn’t going to make it the 6.2 miles across the city in the two hours I had left, unless I was willing to adapt and overcome.
Please meet Daphene:
The picture is a little blurry, but Daphene saved my bacon! I was beyond grateful. When I expressed my gratitude and asked if I could snap a picture she said, “Why?” I told her it was because she just helped push me into the 21st century, catch my first Uber, and get home to see my family.
It was a random act of kindness. I didn’t ask her to call a cab.
Experiences like that fill me with hope. Even though things are a little crazy right now, I know we’re going to get through this. Our shared humanity is the solution, not the problem. Our differences are a strength, not a weakness. We just have to be humble enough to see it that way.
That is the message of my heart for today…
…I’ll get back to the news and giving liberals hell tomorrow!