Foggy Glasses

Divided. Polarized. Separated. Disconnected. 

America today.

Do you feel this? Do you see this? Do you scratch your hair and shake your head when you experience this? I know I do. I want it to change. Desperately.

Undivided. Balanced. United. Cooperative.

America... one day. Hopefully.

There is lots that has to happen for this second set of words to become some of the descriptors used when one asks to define America.  Lots has to happen, but I want to talk about just one thing that needs to change to make way for this.... 

We have to be brutally honest about our own bias. 

Folks, listen.  We are all biased when it comes to which "side" of things we land on.  We all believe so firmly in what we hold dear that we often put on the fogged up glasses when looking at a situation, thus our view of it is not quite as clear as it could be.  We tend to let these lenses get smudged lots from taking these glasses on and off all the time, which makes our view even more cloudy.



Here is what I mean....

Glasses off: A woman sees a teen making fun of someone because they look different. She is saddened and angry.  For weeks she tells her friends about it with frustration, passion and indignation.

Glasses on: The same woman hears a city council member she supported, in the last election, telling lies about a colleague at a meeting.  She looks past this unfortunate choice of behavior and defends the council member to friends when at dinner that evening.  

Glasses off: A man listens to a friend at lunch admit his unfaithfulness to his wife.  He is loving but firm when he advises his friend that this is wrong and tells him to stop.  He offers to meet regularly with his friend to be accountable with each other because he too has things he needs to work on.

Glasses on: The same man hears of the infidelities of an athlete that plays on the team he has been a diehard lifelong fan of.  Although he is saddened by this news he tells friends that it doesn't affect his ability to play the game and that it is his private life and none of his business.


These glasses can muddy our view of things.  They can also be a crutch we cling to when the people we admire or hang out hopes on disappoint us.  We reach for them when we feel our heart tugging and pulling our conscience away from where our feet have been firmly planted because we want to stay where we believe we should be.  This pair of spectacles can cause us to loosen up a bit on the core characteristics we live by normally.  They cloud our judgment and blur our otherwise clear vision.

I have a pair of these glasses.  I used to wear them often.  Long ago.  When Bill Clinton became President of the United States back in 1992 I was one of the millions who voted for him.  I agreed with where he stood on some issues, and didn't agree on others.  But there were a few issues back then, while I was a young mom with 1 little I was chasing after, that held more weight for me when deciding who to vote for.  I liked him and liked the change I felt he was going to bring.  So I was a Clinton backer.  When the news of his affair with Monica Lewinsky hit I was stunned.  I was saddened. I was disgusted.  But I searched for those glasses in the back of a kitchen junk drawer and put them on my face.  I brushed aside this indiscretion and said it was his personal business. I continued to move the glasses up and down on my nose and smudged them more each time.  I forged ahead with my support of this man and dismissed the importance of his actions. 

I was confused.

I was immature.

I was wrong.

I should never have compromised my own character because I wanted to continue to be "on that side". I should never have pardoned behavior because I wanted to appear consistent and "right to have chosen him". 

I should have said what my heart was whispering.  I should have spoken up. I should have been grown up and admitted that someone I put my trust in had let me down.  

Just to add this... I did not vote for him the 2nd term.  I took the glasses off in time for the election.

This is what we need more of.  When people on one side of the aisle grab their glasses and look through the messy lenses they aren't being honest. The spectacles aide in the spin game.  It is easier to shift the focus off the thing that normally would have our panties in a wad if it was our child behaving in this way!  Both sides do this.  Civilians, politicians, journalists, me, you.  All of us.

If we are all honest, we are foggy glasses wearing Americans.

It is time to get out the glasses cleaner and a nice little soft rag.  Let's mist them a bit with the spray bottle {or breathe heavy on them like we did "back in the day"} and start to wipe them clean.  It's ok to say "I still believe in the policies of that senator but I am saddened, disappointed and quite frankly, disgusted by her behavior.  She was wrong and I am unhappy.".  It is acceptable to say "I can't believe what he said and am appalled.  I continue to hope that the changes he promised will happen but, for cry eye, this is not cool.".  

The minute we all start to do this... on both sides of the seemingly impenetrable divide.... we can start to heal.  Folks, if we can see that someone over yonder on the other side is saying that they also feel the same way about a behavior or action, then we start to believe that there is common ground... it comes from common character.  If our feel stay firmly planted in good character and it is shared then we can work together better.  This doesn't mean we agree on everything, but that we start our walk every day from the same foundational piece of land. 

America. Home of the FREE & the BRAVE.

Let's all be brave enough to say when we know something is wrong. Let's all be free enough to express it in a respectful way with the hope of bridging the gap. 

And listen, folks, some of you may be thinking "she is just upset with Donald Trump and the fact that he won" and I understand that you would think that.  Honestly, while that is true for me personally, this is about so much more than just this one election.  This is about a ever growing cavernous divide when it comes to politics, religion, environmental issues, social issues and much more.  This is about every election from City Alderman to Mayor and from Governor to President.  This is about having a moral compass and being willing to be as upset with "our" candidate as we all are with "their" candidate when they do something erroneous or disgraceful.  

We have to be brutally honest about our own bias. 


May you read these words with the fair, solution-searching heart they were written with.

May you look carefully at what you stand for and what you won't stand for.

May you be willing to be honest and say something is wrong even if it hard to do. 

May we heal as a nation and take the steps necessary to do just that. 

January 11, 2017 — Sarah Stevens

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