People are (still) people

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“People are people so why should it be
you and I should get along so awfully?”
– Depeche Mode

To borrow a line from folks older than me, the world today is lacking in civility. This is especially evident when various sacred cows enter the conversation. Even now, I am thinking about how to carefully present myself as to not offend “all sides” enough to either stop reading or proceed to flame comment me to Mars. But, as a cynical left-leaning centrist from New Jersey, I must admit to a few of my own pre-conceived notions about how things are.

Dispelling a few of these notions, or at least learning to better separate someone’s politics from the person is another benefit of this road trip around the United States.

“But, John,” you might be saying to a computer screen, in which case, get outside. “How could you possibly defend this particular person or that particular policy when they approve of this particular terrible thing or that particular terrible idea?”

To answer this hypothetical question, guilty voice inside my head, I’m not defending anything. Unless you want to say I am defending the seemingly lost of art of not being mad at everything all the fucking time. Then, yes, I am defending that.

I am also defending my own right to augment my own ideas of how things are.

Just because I talked to the wine maker at the winery with what I consider a questionable wine name…

Yes, they have a wine called “2nd Amendment Right” with a gun on its label. That’s different.

…does not mean I have been converted. Nor does it mean I don’t think those ideas are any less questionable. What it did do is humanize people who beforehand were some nebulous terrible concept. The “other,” those ignorant, gun-loving hicks and other far less kind comments I have made. That’s not nice. It’s not civil. It’s also pretty hypocritical when I start throwing names out about people regarding ignorance and then proceed to learn nothing about them other than they want to ban this or that or voted for this or that asshole or “they like guns,” which likely would barely scratch the surface of their beliefs, one would hope. They’re still people, I don’t have to agree with them. I can even aggressively disagree with them. But, they’re still people. I have often forgotten that, and I am sure I’m not the only one on either side of many arguments.

In the case of the winery, a certain belief in a thing I am on the opposite end nearly derailed what ended up being a pleasant surprise (we were on I-64 heading to Indiana and just happened to see a sign for the winery and thought, “why not?”). We bought a bottle (not the one with a big gun on the label) and went on. The winemaker poured us some wine, we tried some wine, he was nice and we were nice. This is something that seems to have become endangered, which is unfortunate for a number of reasons you may or may not think about. But, for one, when both sides of an argument devolve into mad foaming at the mouth animals, there is even less possibility of either side meeting somewhere in the middle, if only for a glass of wine. Not to change policies or change minds, just for a drink. That sucks, because I like wine.

And if the conversation did head to politics, maybe we could all be a little less rabid and dismissive. Not of one’s particular beliefs, but of the idea that those ideas exist and why. This is another benefit of our road trip.

We also saw an old-fashioned country jam session at a Moose lodge that served simple but filling food. Do any of these folks have political leanings and beliefs that likely skew far in the opposite direction of this cynical left-leaning centrist from New Jersey? Quite possibly. But, they were nice. And, their music was great. And, there is a time and place to discuss one’s political beliefs and whether or not they align with mine. A Wednesday night Moose lodge jam session is not one of them.

So, why not enjoy some excellent music and some good vibes? It doesn’t change your beliefs. If it does, they must not have been very strong in the first place.

JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.


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