I've never been much of a joiner. That was one reason I was a lurker at DKos for several years before I ever signed up. I tend to be quiet and a bit shy in life and had no urge to make comments or contribute. When an issue is hugely important to me, then I start to speak. So for me, it made sense to finally sign up here when the Democratic primaries began prior to the 2008 election. I hadn't felt anything was so critically important in years. After all, this was going to be about cleaning up what I felt was one of the largest messes in American history: G. W. Bush.
Despite my lack of overt participation, DKos felt like a home for me. There were so many here who thought similarly to myself. No, not just agreed with me on issues, but actually had thought patterns akin to my own. Primarily, an ability to pragmatically view all the grey, realizing that life's problems are not addressed by remaining with polarized black and white responses; reality based thinking.
Therefore, even when disagreeing with conclusions, I joyfully embraced the insightful opinions I viewed here. It was so refreshing. Much of the U.S. was mired in the totally polarized "you are with us or against us" mentality that the Bush administration cultivated and fertilized with a green thumb that would make the gardeners of Eden blush with envy. Amidst that intellectual chaos, DKos was a haven of realistic sanity and a respite that I sought frequently.
After all, the dreaded Bush was excised finally from the garden of American government. Sure, some runners remained that would need to be removed, a lengthy and frustrating process, but a welcome relief after that Bush infestation. Even better, the Bush family, the GOP species, was also kept from reinvading the pinnacle of governmental garden when the McCain Palinus shrub was barred entry in the Fall of 2008. Yes indeed, the US made a much better choice and installed the ObamaBiden greenery, a nonpredatory genus that would contribute to healthy growth rather than depleting our resources as had the predecessor.
I felt, yes, joy. Practically speaking, I recognize that joy is fleeting, but darn, once in a while, it just feels good, doesn't it? Anyway, yes there was joy and hope. Ever realistic, I also embraced the fact that overnight my ills, our ills, would not be swept away. In point of fact, the real work was just beginning. I could happily live with that, because finally there was a shot at cleaning house. It would be dirty, sometimes depressing work, but it was a step in the right direction at long last, and we had waited so very long for even a single step in the right direction after years of moving headlong into the worst possible direction.
My joy was fueled in no small part by the simple fact that the man newly elected to lead this nation was capable of recognizing the grey areas when he worked through problems. The polarized black and white thinking of the Bush years was about to start its withdrawal from our psyche. My relief was immense.
Now, however, I begin to see that I blamed that polarized thinking on the leader, Bush. That was erroneous. Sure, his "leadership" provided a focus point for it, encouraged that cataclysmic type of rationalizing in others, but he was not the founder of that particular feast. Nay, he merely took advantage of the fact that many Americans by nature engaged in polarized thinking and wielded it to his particular political advantage. (I confess, I hadn't thought he was that bright at all.)
I realize this now because, although Bush has left our political garden some ten months past, this polarized thinking still teems with life. Evidence of it may be found daily, overheard in checkout lines, promulgated in the media, and even on political blog sites.
With this tarnish, my joy has become diminished. Yet gratefully, I still retain my relief. The Bush genus and its cohorts, McCainPalinus, were removed from our WH garden. The work we face remains the same, to remove the treacherous roots and runners left behind. The replacement growth is still capable of embracing the reality that the grey areas exist and must be addressed and that we do not (sadly, cannot, due to the nature of life) reside in a Utopia. We must address our issues within the concept of the world in which we live, not the world in which we wish we lived.
So yes, my joy is dampened, but I cling to my relief, my hope, and the possibility that if we all work hard enough, we can indeed bring this nation to a better place. Never a perfect place, true; but a better place is still something well worth working toward.
As it should be, it is the nature of humans to struggle, strive, work towards a perfection that can never be attained in this imperfect world. We don't even all agree on what perfection is, each of us having our own view. When we can finally accept that and not demonize our brothers and sisters for sharing our view, we will definitely arrive in a better place.
I applaud each of us for our struggle, our tears and perspiration shed, our labors spent towards the pursuit of that perfection of our society, no matter what our individual opinions of that perfection may be. Kudos to each of us for our passion, our desire, our drive that urges us on to battle for a better world for us all.
I only ask one thing: please, take a moment, look around, and realize before you rattle off your keyboard that pyrrhic retort to another's contrary view, that their passion, desire, hope, and labor towards a better life for us all is just as meaningful as your own. Try and be grateful for that diversity of thought, appreciate that their trials, concerns and hopes are as real as your own, even as they may deviate from your own. For one moment, set aside that their version of how to attain a societal betterment varies from your solution, but that the ultimate goal of improving our world remains the same. Then, feel free to debate the details with all the glorious passion your human spirit is capable of, in a manner that does not diminish their wondrous human spirit in the process.
I am personally grateful for the grey areas, for within the battle there lies our diversity. It is there, outside the polarization of black and white, where the most creative solutions are found, often through the painful process of combining the greatest points from numerous solutions and crafting them into an entirely different animal, comprised from the minds of the many. I promise each of you that I will always strive to remember this, even when I am frustrated in our disagreement on a particular point of how to arrive at our greater good. Please, return the courtesy in kind. After all, we share more in common than we differ, evidenced by the fact that we are here at DKos; no matter what path we see to arrive there, we still passionately desire the same goal, a better life for us all.