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The Other Cheek

January 21, 2024

A number of years ago I stopped watching NFL football. What finally made me give it up was that it was taking four hours per game. The way the players act was another factor.

I recall Billy “White shoes” Johnson of the Houston Oilers had a touchdown dance that struck me as taunting. Back then, he was the only one doing it. Now it is choreographed. There were hits on Lynn Swann by George Atkinson, one of the most disgusting I have ever seen, and one by Jack Tatum leaving Darryl Stingly paralyzed for the rest of his life. Drugs. Cheating. Domestic abuse. Generally boorish behavior.

All players are not like this. Some were and are stellar sportsmen and citizens. The misbehavers are the ones who get the attention. The biggest factor, though, was how the games made me feel when I invested myself in a team. If they won, I did not sleep well for celebration. If they lost, I did not sleep well for distress. Upsides stopped overweighing downsides.

In late 2015 and then in 2016, I reached the same point with politics. I had been a close follower since the 1960s. I was young in a generation that saw a president killed on a sunny afternoon. Then two more assassinations in 1968. It sparked and kindled an interest that spanned a lot of years. That interest changed with the campaign that ended with the election of Donald Trump. This is not a rant about party or politics.

I am a registered independent. Any registration seems to make me little more than chum when it comes to political telephone calls. They come in unbelievable number at all times of day. I don’t answer them. They do not move the needle and I have found, when I do get caught in conversation, that there is a nod/wink presumption that I believe/accept what they are offering.

I do not watch Fox. I do not watch CNN. I won’t vilify either. You have heard all objections to one, the other, or both. You may have made up your mind. Hopefully, you have not had it made up for you.

I used to read Time magazine and I do read a LOT of Internet news articles without regard to the source. That means that sometimes, I read news from Fox. Sometimes from CNN. Most often, it is from neither. I don’t limit myself to provocative articles that cater to people with specific leanings. That spew and magnify my own emotions and opinions. I don’t only want to hear what I want to hear. I am also interested in what you think, even when we don’t think the same way. If you are wrong, I am not going to try to set you right. If I am wrong, I want it to be because I don’t KNOW, not because I won’t listen.

I read national and international news. I have been as interested in Brexit as in American news. What I recommend to everyone is not WHAT I watch, but the way I watch. When I was younger, I also read the bible, cover to cover. I’m not going to insult you by saying I remember every bit of it, or even understood every bit of it, or that I always color inside the lines. I do my best. If I do less, I’m not going to excuse it with ‘the other guy is doing worse’ defense. If I fail in ignorance, I hope I can at least say it is not intentional ignorance.

I’m not going to argue politics with anyone. I know what I believe. My opinions and beliefs are informed over a lifetime and a lot of experience, research, and study. I am open to change if I see compelling reason. I did not start out with all of my current beliefs and opinions. Some came from parents or other family. Some evolved or changed. Some came about by interaction with other people. No one person. Many people whom I respect.

I definitely know what makes me stop listening. Argument and name-calling will guarantee I will not talk to you. It will guarantee I will not listen to what you have to say. It will guarantee I won’t respect you or your views. I’m not going to rain criticism and bile on you. I did not tolerate that in my children. I can’t tolerate it in adults. There is an example I do struggle to follow. He was not a counter-puncher. He simply recommended turning the other cheek.

I’m bracing for a wave of hate and malice because this is again election season. A presidential election year is close on the horizon. I’m not advocating anyone. I hope everyone who does vote does so after serious consideration. I remember seeing provocative signs saying, for instance, that ‘the Democratic party is morally bankrupt’. Broad brushes smear everyone who associates that way. I don’t see anything in signs like this, or those who display them, that recommends their world view or the candidate they support. I recognize a tree by the fruit. I have no use for that kind of sign regardless of the affiliation of the person(s) displaying it. How did the owner of that sign feel about the ‘basket of deplorables’ remark in 2015?

I will always remember John McCain correcting a woman who supported him when she questioned the religion/heritage of his opponent at that time. I did not vote for him but I have always respected him for that maturity.

I’m getting a little smarter as I get older. More intolerant of things that divide and incite and provoke and inflame. I do my best not to get caught up in doing those things and to turn the other cheek when they come in my direction. I’m really working on that turn.


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