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IMAGINE THAT

July 5, 2009

ImagineThatLOGO

We Americans are an interesting bunch. We’re a combination of different backgrounds, ethnicities and religious beliefs. We like to think we are a generous people. We believe we are the hardest workers in the world with unmatched capabilities to research and develop new industries and technologies.

The above said, it stands to reason that we are a blend of the different labels that are used to categorize us by media and politicians – Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative and Liberal.  But national polling would have us believe we fall into only one category with a chance that some also fall slightly into a second.

I disagree.

Surely, you’re not surprised. 🙂

ManFlagTraveling this country over the years, I’ve learned most people are not defined by a single category as the polls would indicate, but instead, by portions of many categories. At our core, we Americans are both individually unique and collectively similar.

Most of us believe we are open-minded and willing to listen to others. We believe we are firm in our faith, following our denomination’s teachings, especially as they relate to accepting those of different cultures. Most of us know that there will be change in our lives – whether we like it or not – and therefore, cannot always be bound by the rules of previous generations. For the most part, we are a peaceful people, co-existing in a very diverse nation.

So, based on the paragraphs above, what “category” do we really fall into? Let’s look at the above traits as a dictionary definition: 

a. Not limited to established views: accepting of new ideas:

b. Tolerant of the cultures of others; broad-minded;

JesusWaterDoveMost of my family members and – on a much broader scale – my friends and acquaintances, would probably agree they fall somewhere within these definitions. If I were to have a heart-to-heart conversation with any of them, we may find some minor differences, but nothing earth-shattering.

That is, until the conversation turns to politics or religion. Then the term “earth-shattering” becomes an understatement. Many of the very same people who would agree with me, or I with them, about most of the general life issues described above, are suddenly miles apart. How does that happen? What causes people who appear to care about each other, about their community, their church, their family and  friends, to be so divided over these two subjects?

I don’t have an answer.

If I were to speculate, I would say that most of what is said during conversations about politics or religion comes from what has been heard, and not from conclusions that were derived through extensive personal research, reflection and experience. As these conversations “heat up,” defensiveness increases, especially when questions requiring real honesty are asked. I don’t know if this is an attempt to hide a lack of knowledge or it is simply discomfort due to a perceived attack on one’s integrity. Either way, when conversations digress to this level, I exit.

However, as a nation, it does seem we’re progressing in our dialogue. There are big shifts occurring and for the first time in a long time (if ever), the change is coming from the grassroots – not from the top. We are slowly but surely – with some discomfort – taking our country back from those who would divide us into separate categories so as to keep us from the basic commonality that binds all Americans.

BTW – Here’s an actual dictionary definition of the traits I discussed at the beginning of this post:

“a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.”

TeamworkShaded

It’s the definition of liberal

Imagine that.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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