I have depression.
Sometimes it gets the better of me and I send out little "hints" as to how awful I'm feeling on my social media. One of my friends, I'll call him "JT" for these purposes, recently sent me a message to see if I was all right.
I met JT on Twitter. He read a few of my blog posts and we found we had quite a few things in common, not the least of which being an affinity for British New Wave bands of the 1980s. But we found we didn't agree much on politics. He's somewhere in the middle of the right end of the political spectrum and if you've followed me for any length of time then you pretty much know where I stand. Regardless, JT's digital "wellness check" made me sit and think for a long time, even though I'm certain he didn't intend such. In fact, he didn't intend anything apart from making sure I was doing all right.
He didn't check first to see what my stance was on the Iranian nuclear treaty. He didn't poll me to make sure I was supporting at least one of the GOP 2016 candidates. He just wanted to help. JT's act of compassion forced me to evaluate many things. If I saw a car on the side of the interstate that had black smoke billowing out from under the hood and one of the passengers in the ditch and the other knelt over him crying, I don't think I'd care if there was a Trump bumper sticker on the car. I'd stop and help in whatever way my limitations would allow. I believe most people I know would have the probity to do the same. This and acts like JT's show us at our best, demonstrating we have far more in common with one another than differences.
It's tougher to see that now. As meme after meme gets passed around on social media and cries of "libtard" and "Teabagger" fly in the comments section, there's a sense of tribalism that sets into the morrow of the social framework. Stick with your own and eye the other with suspicion. Never know what they might try to take from you. I've done it. I will freely admit that. I have felt so dead cold with certainty on issues that I saw razor-sharp rhetoric as justified when I was opposed and insulted. It only serves to escalate the situation and we get nowhere. Civil discussion and compromise are needed now more than ever before.
But how can you compromise on issues that deal with human rights? How can true justice allow a "compromise" on something such as full and equal rights for the LGBT community, or a woman having access to every medical care option, or how on earth could you compromise on #Blacklivesmatter? These things are absolutes and naturally generate unyielding stances. I'll be honest...I don't have an answer.
Perhaps the method is to proceed from common ground. We have it. Despite the howls of the extremes of both sides, I'm starting to see the large mass of people that fall in the middle. We want the chance to earn a decent wage and send our kids to good schools. We want to be safe. That means being safe from both criminal threats here at home and from what enemies we may have overseas. The majority of us are the products of immigrants and I believe we want to continue to welcome people into our nation, but most of us also understand the need for a component of safety and security in that process. This is the good stuff, the things we all want. We just differ on how to get it. But if we could somehow remember that our goals are the same...
I know. It reeks of naiveté. Even I kind of want to smack myself right now. Maybe it's the hope that comes with the holiday season. But it's also during this season that I frequently hear songs calling for "peace on Earth." I can't help but wonder how that's ever going to happen when the citizens of America can't even make peace with each other? Because the thing is, we're all we have. Each one of us is fighting this tough battle called life. No presidential candidate is going to come save us. We, the people who as George Bailey said "do most of the working and paying and living and dying," are in this together. Probably time we start acting like it.
Because as I learned from my friend's message, compassion makes a fine bridge to compromise.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets