Of Snits — and Silos

Everyone’s in a Snit. Some are in a Snit because Trump’s in. Others are in a Snit because of The Women’s March. Many are in the The Worst Snit: “Echo my beliefs or you don’t exist.”

Echo Snitters demand agreement. It’s their way or the highway; it’s a dangerous view for anyone, from a politician to a family member. Why? Civil discourse is a pillar of our democracy. We don’t have to agree, but if we FEAR speaking our minds politely, democracy is under fire.

Our National Snit scares me snitless. We’ve been through hard times before.

From about 1963 to 1974, we thought our nation was coming undone.

  • Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK in 1963
  • Vietnam began filling cemeteries & protesters roared — mid 60’s onward.
  • Malcolm X was killed, 1965
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated, April 1968
  • Sirhan Sirhan killed Bobby Kennedy, June 1968
  • The My Lai Massacre, March 1968
  •  The National Guard killed 4 unarmed students at Kent State May, May 1970
  • Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President, 1973 after accusations of bribery, tax fraud and conspiracy.
  • Richard M. Nixon resigned, Aug. 9, 1974. The man who said “If the President does it, it’s legal,” was gone.

What’s different now is that reality has become unique to each person. We no longer disagree. You are WRONG and I am RIGHT.

Our truths are largely an accident of birth: we see things as our group does. In the 1960’s, there were straights and hippies, blacks and whites, young and old. And for the closeted? Liberace.

Now we have Goths, grunge, bikers, evangelicals, the LBGTs, the massively obese, the Muslims, the military, the rural, the urban, Native Americans, Greenpeacers, the undereducated, the home schooled, liberals, conservatives, tea partiers, green partiers, the overeducated and the media (right, left and religious).  All with their self-contained loop of “logic.”

Each group feels ANOINTED; their values are THE CORRECT ones.

Someone opined that with streaming video, we can all enforce our own “reality.” Some people endlessly stream “Masterpiece Theatre.” Others watch “Honey Boo-Boo.” We’re each living in a silo of self-validation. Different veiwpoints can’t get in. The “other” is the enemy, undeserving of empathy. Honestly, how much can you relate to Mama June on Honey Boo Boo?

As an MD, I had to be respectful to all patients, no matter how bizarre they were. I learned a lot: we all want dignity, the best for our kids, and to be left alone.  Pretty simple. We all want to be heard.

Empathy ennobles us, but it’s disappearing. Click here for a Scientific American article on it. A leader wins a war, but being empathetic, he makes sure to feed the starving, vanquished people. Real peace is possible.

We’re suffering from Silo-and-Snit mentality. Since when is your political identity greater than your love as a friend, spouse or family member? What’s happened to common courtesy — and civil rights — for people unlike you?

What has happened to thinking before you speak? Oh, Right. You don’t care if you insult your grandmother.

Everyone: GET OUT OF YOUR SILO.  Talk with people from a different silo. Listen to the words — not just the headlines — of other viewpoints. Stop blowing off “the other.” We’re all unique. Some people have fascinating descriptors. “Black female computer scientists in 1961” may have a noble, unique truths … ones we honor in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

In your family, stop with your own reality. “We have a family value of X, and you’ve violated it.” Really? Drumming people out of families is harsh. Do it with care: for criminality or abuse, never for political differences or simple things (“She gave the baby a taste of chocolate! How DARE she?”)  Conflicts happen. Since the beginning of time, generations have disagreed. In-laws and step-parents often finds themselves in domestic wars based of different assumptions.  Manners, not pistols at dawn, are a far better resolution.

Get over YOURSELF. No one elected you God. You don’t get to make The Rules, no matter how big your silo. You have Quirks. You will Disappoint sometimes. Don’t hound loved ones over quirks and disagreements. If everybody agreed, we’d only need one flavor of ice cream.

All we have is each other. First, speak civilly to people we LOVE. Then let’s practice it with strangers with different opinions. Can’t do it? Well, then pack in the democracy.