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Style Magazine

Neighboring Points of View

Oct 31, 2008 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

I have a neighbor. I’ll call him Les because...well, that’s his name. Les is a great neighbor. Retired, he and his wife and his mother-in-law live next door. We trade gardening tips, gripe about the Kings, and watch over each other’s homes when the other is away. Les and I agree about a lot of things. But when it comes to politics, he has his side of the fence and I have mine.

Les leans conservative. And while I am a registered independent, I vote democrat more often than not. Hey, my mom is an 84 year-old Roosevelt supporter, still in possession of the campaign buttons to prove it. And my dad, while a little more moderate, was a lot like his beloved ‘74 Galaxy 500: he, too, pulled to the left. It’s my destiny. But I try to remain open-minded. I try to see things as objectively as possible. I really do.

These days, especially, in a politically charged year, it’s easy to stay on your own side of the fence. Radio shows, chat rooms, television news networks - if you don’t want to have a real discussion, you don’t have to. And most of us don’t. Who would? Most political discourse on TV or radio has been reduced to blustery tirades by self-important blowhards who would refuse to listen even if Paul Harvey started slamming them in the side of the head with a Bose Wave radio. And don’t even mention political advertising; I would rather sit through a hundred Labor Day Weekend Sell-A-Thon commercials from the local auto mall. Anyway, watch or hear enough of that and it’s easy to start thinking that all discussions of a political nature will only end up the verbal equivalent of a European soccer riot. Why bother?

So this is where it gets back to my neighbor Les. Les and I have had some…ah, “healthy” discussions over the years. But even though we may be so far apart on a topic that we need Google Earth to find some middle ground, he is still able to discuss and to listen. He may think my point of view is about as silly as a tutu on a cow, but he’s always acknowledged my right to that opinion, without ever once displaying a dangerous increase in blood pressure. And, while there are times I definitely think his cows are dressed for the ballet too, I find myself still able to respect his point of view and remain within my own target heart range. Of course, there have been occasions when it has gotten a little tense, but if it gets to that, “hey…how ‘bout those Kings!” And once in a great while, we’ve even found ourselves looking at an issue in a way that we hadn’t considered before. Go figure.

What we need to realize (and I think maybe finally we are) is that most of us are like Les: reasonable people who understand that just because someone doesn’t agree with them, it doesn’t mean they’ve got horns sprouting from their head and that a political discussion of opposing views doesn’t need to devolve into an episode of Jerry Springer!

So even though the latest political season is over, there’s always another one not too far away. Next time, don’t be afraid to approach the fence. Your neighbor might be on the other side, wanting to do the same exact thing.

Catch Tom on the Pat and Tom Morning Show on New Country 105.1 KNCI.