Being an adult is highly overrated. You have to do your own laundry, cook your own meals, buy gas, pay utility bills, go to work, and generally do other "adult" things that do not generally make it into X-rated movies (not that I would know). When I was a child, I thought that being an adult would be awesome. I could do anything I wanted! I could drive! I could eat chocolate for breakfast (and sometimes I do)! I could stay out after curfew! Sure, some of these things are fun, but somewhere along the line, being an adult became less fun and more responsibility.
One of the most difficult things for me about gaining adulthood (at least in age, if not maturity) is learning to deal with nuance. I like my world divided into black and white, with stark lines between good and evil. Obviously, sometimes it is! But as I grow up, I find that often, the world isn't as black and white as I would like it to be. There is gray in the world, and it's learning to live with that and understand it that really makes you an adult, in my opinion. I was reminded of this by a song from "The King and I" called "A Puzzlement" (YouTube video linked below).
The line "There are times I almost think I am not sure of what I absolutely know" has resonated with me. I can't speak for others, but for myself the world gets a lot more confusing when I try to see others' points of view or understand complex, non-black-and-white issues. So often in politics, people seem SURE that they have the right answer and there is only ONE right answer. We are right, they say, and the "other" party is completely wrong.
Of course this was on display at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and I'm sure it will feature prominently at the Democratic one in Charlotte this week. Republicans blasted Democratic ideas and policies as failures and blamed them basically for everything bad that happened in the last four years. Both sides seem determined to demolish the other party, and are not interested in governing or compromising with them. However, by demonizing your opponents, you make both sides more ideologically entrenched and unwilling to give quarter. This just further reduces the level of honest debate that we can have, meanwhile turning off people from the political process.
The truth is, this country is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and you are never going to get the other party to go away. Ignoring them and assuming that their ideas don't count will not make them go away. You are holding on to a black and white world in which all members of your party are saints and the other party is full of heretics and devils. It's childish. There was a depressing article in the NY Times Magazine recently - "Feel the Loathing on the Campaign Trail." One of the anecdotes featured the author questioning the Democrats on what made them think that the Republicans in congress were any more likely to work with Obama if he won re-election. Their response was to say "Our winning will teach them a lesson."
Somehow, I don't think either the Republicans or Democrats are likely to "grow up" and learn that lesson, no matter who wins in November. Neither party seems willing to govern and compromise with the other side. But instead of blaming the other side, let's work on our OWN attitudes. WE can start by trying earnestly to listen to the other side and see the good in it. By trying to accept that we don't have all the answers, and that there are plenty of good and bad ideas in both parties. That's why I watched so much of the Republican National Convention over the past week - I really do think that some of the ideas they have are good, and I hope Obama will listen too.
If you missed it because it wasn't in primetime (unlike a ridiculous, chair-wielding maniac Hollywood star who shall remain in the priceless hands of the late-night comedians), here was my favorite part of the convention, where some ordinary Mormons got to talk about how Mitt Romney helped them when he was their Bishop - I found it very moving. It was nice to hear from some ordinary people who seem real.
Mitt really does seem like a good guy - which is why I'm not voting for him, I want him to have plenty of time to serve in his church callings (wink, wink).