Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Way We See: Our Little Civil Wars

We all have them, these little civil wars. These almost always very civil little civil wars. All you have to do is leave the house. Some poor souls don't even have to leave the house; they can have them right there in their own kitchens. Generally, they start off innocently enough. You can get into one by just talking to someone about something as innocuous as the weather. I got into one today, when I went to the local optometrist to replace a broken nose pad on my glasses.

The woman ahead of me -- an attractive, middle-aged, gray-haired lady -- was having her glasses adjusted and I was waiting my turn. When the optometrist left the room for a few minutes, she turned to me and smiled and started up the conversation. It went something like this:

"This is such a beautiful little town. Do you live here?"
"Yes, it is a beautiful town; and yes, I do live here. Where are you from?"

The woman, and her absent husband -- both teachers, both getting ready to retire -- were from North Carolina, and were up here visiting their son. We talked about teaching and about what a difficult profession it is, and about how much it had changed over the years, about how so many things had changed. And I guess that's how it got started, talking about changes. About how the whole world had changed. Then at some point she said the word "Bush".

Now, I don't know about you, but I've developed a special set of antennae over these last few years that react to that particular word "Bush". Especially when it's said that special way, like a challenge and an indictment all rolled into one. Maybe black people have learned to react to that N-word this same way: The word's been said and now you know the war's begun.

"But, don't you think BUSH has been responsible for a lot of the way people feel about us now? His policies, I mean -- with the war and everything?"

"No, actually, I think if President Bush had never been born our enemies would still be trying to kill us. It's got nothing to do with our foreign policies. They see us as the enemy, the infidels. We're the Great Satan. They want to either destroy us or conquer us."

She just smiled, one of those clever little subtle smiles that says she doesn't believe a word I've just said. We'd reached that point of mutual recognition: we were on opposite sides. I talked for a while about the Koran and the Islamists; but I knew it wasn't doing any good, it wasn't going to change anything. Nothing I could possible say would change anything. She knew it and I knew it. It has gone too far. We are too far apart. The only thing we have in common anymore is our politeness, our civility. But how much longer would that last?

"Sometimes, I think this country's headed for another Civil War," she said, rather matter-of-factly, as though it wasn't all that big a deal, as though she was talking about the possibility of another recession.

My glasses were fixed and it was time to leave; I said goodbye and headed for the door.

"Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree," she said.
"I guess so," I said.

Now, dammit, I had just written something the day before about how I would no longer just agree to disagree with these people, about how these people were the enemy, perhaps a more dangerous enemy than al Qaeda. And here I was 'agreeing to disagree' with them again. It was that damn politeness. That damn civility of this civil civil war.

Well, we both had our glasses fixed now. We could both see clearly once again. But what do we see? How differently do we see this world around us? And how much longer will these little civil wars remain so civil? How much longer will that inate civility still hold us all together?

God bless America.


  1. Both of you got your glasses fixed, but only one of you could actually see out of them. You see the stark reality of the world. It's full spectrum of colors and shades. Not everything you see is nice or pretty, but that is the truth of life.

    Your opponent wears those nice rose colored glasses. Everything she sees is colored and distorted. She has been brainwashed into believing that all can be right with the world if we just rollover and surrender.

    In this civil war, the man with the true sight will win every time against the man with distorted vision.

  2. I used to harbor doubts about my own position when I saw people who's positions were so firmly grounded against my own. I used to tell myself that I had to be missing something. Why else would they completely disregard the simple logic behind my positions?

    As I took it upon myself to read up and learn more, I found that I was missing nothing. I don't know what it is that drives a person to not be able to believe that someone else wants them dead -- that there are those out there who don't just want to live happily side by side -- while at the same time believing that people within their own country (us) harbor those very beliefs, but that is truly what they believe. They believe that we want to kill, maim, and destroy, but see it as impossible that Islam is capable of it. They want to defend the world from the veil of Christianity, but want cultural equality with Islam. Many of them are uncivil in their disagreements with our position while decrying the apparent incivility of our policies.

    I generally do have a hard time being uncivil to people, these people included, because I know they have the best interest of everybody at heart just like we do. But how do you civilly tell someone that the very foundations of their beliefs are fallacious and paradoxical? Without that nugget, all we can do is (civilly) dance around the issues.

  3. It is always amazing to me that the Liberal Academia types always find away to interject " Bush" into just everything that in their Kool aid Mentality seem to make sense to them.. Fcats and actuality be damned.. Bash Someone while not having acLUE of the rapid changes and misinformation being spewed by the " Hate america" gang of Soros . Pelosi, Reid and Socio Paths...and they are the ones teaching our children.... Be Scared America, Be Scared...or take up arms, dump some bags of concrete on Congress's heads and Reclaim our Country!

  4. I just had version of this 'civil war' at my own family reunion. Thankfully, we only have the one liberal among us. But she is ALWAYS right and very superior in her knowledge, or so she thinks. But I love her, she' my aunt. So I am civil. trust she will one day see the light.