It’s been months since I last blogged and you may wonder why. It started (or stopped) when I took a break after the election in November. It was the first time I had taken a deep breath in years and I wanted to breathe for a while. And then breathe some more. So I chose to breathe and pray in silence. To let the anxiety of the past several years begin to slide off my skin, to breathe it out of my pores, and to rest a moment. So I did.
And then January 6th happened.
Just when I began to hope again.
Just when I thought my heart had broken all it was going to break.
Just when I was beginning the work of putting my heart back together again…
the ‘feels’ overwhelmed me.
So here I am, months later, and I’m thinking again. This is how I know after extended periods of depression, of hopelessness, of grief, and of loss that I am healing. Thinking is like the psychic itch of a wound on the mend. After the feels comes the consideration, the questions, the forward movement. My strength is returning and so is my hope.
Welcome back to my blog postings. I hope we will breathe and scratch our itches together.
I’m trying to remember from the ethics classes I took what the first premises are. If I’m not mistaken, the first is that to debate ethics with one another we have to agree on what our shared ‘authority’ is. Is it the Bible? The Constitution? ‘Natural law’? And then, again, if I’m not mistaken, we have to agree on our primary values. Is it freedom? Peace? Justice? None without the other? Is it survival? If survival is our primary value we need to dispose of the Bible or the Constitution as our authorities.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, it’s not to give you a lesson in how to do ethics, thank you very much. I’m trying to figure out why we don’t seem to be able to talk to people who are very different from us. Even about what might seem to be a shared value. Take freedom. When I talk to anti-maskers and they argue that masks infringe on their freedom, I wonder why their freedom supersedes my freedom to be healthy. And then I wonder whether we are talking about freedom at all. Because, let’s face it, we’ve all heard arguments for limitations of freedom. Like not yelling, ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theatre. There are times when our personal freedom is outweighed by the well-being of the whole. It’s a tenuous path, so let’s walk it carefully.
Freedom doesn’t mean that ‘I can do anything I want’. It never has. That’s being a spoiled brat, not being free. Freedom does not relieve us of our social contract to participate in the community in healthy and respectful ways. Not only will I not syphon your gas or key your car, I will not introduce the possibility of disease into your life if there is a chance that I can.
It is clear that we do not all subscribe to the authority of science. Were that so, I wouldn’t be posting this. So let’s figure out what our shared authority is. And our shared values, should we have any. If we can agree that the Bible or the Constitution, let me suggest that both documents share at least one purpose: how we are to live together in community.
Let’s start here. Not to argue, but to find common ground. It has to begin with agreeing that we want each other to survive and thrive. I cannot do this alone. I am vaccinated and will wear a mask to protect not only myself but those around me. Please realize that when you go about unmasked and unvaccinated you are telling me you do not share the value of community and, even more important, that you are not interested in us finding our way back to reasoned public discourse.