The Great Divide
by Billy Beasley
The following dialogue takes place in my latest novel, The Girl in the River. This is from my fictional member of congress, Charlie Rind, a career politician. It is suggested that he just tell the truth about a particular matter. This is his response.
“In politics that’s always the last resort and even then, never divulge it all.” He chuckled and shook his head. “My dad is long gone but when I first told him many years ago that I wanted to be a politician, he said, ‘Why not a more honorable profession, like say, prostitution?’ I tell that as a loosening up joke when I speak to folks but the truth is my dad was serious. I’m glad he’s not here. He would be ashamed of what I have become. I went to D.C. with such aspirations, but you keep selling little pieces of your soul until you have nothing left. You lose the ability to see anything in black and white. It’s all colored in a thousand shades of gray.”
The Girl in the River is fictional and though I occasionally base a character on someone I know this was not the case with Charlie Rind. I did not even portray him as a republican or democrat.
Both parties contribute greatly to the great divide that plagues our country. I don’t know how anyone can be really proud of either party. I once was a card-carrying republican but along the way, I began to become disillusioned with both parties. I have been registered as unaffiliated for several years now.
Don’t get me wrong. I will vote but I can’t tell you the last time I was excited about a national candidate. There have been times I refuse to check either box for some high-profile races.
Does anyone care to sit at the table and talk anymore? A fair conversation, and not attack someone because they don’t think or vote just like you do. Social media drives this and some people spend so much time arguing with perfect strangers that you would think it was their job. To what end? Have you changed one person’s mind? And the name calling. It is not the people on the left or the right that call people names the moment they disagree as I have seen many people comment. It is both sides. Be fair or at least try to be. Stop making the narrative fit your perspective.
I am reminded often of my dear friend, Nicky, who passed away far too soon. He believed that being an encouragement to others was the greatest of the spiritual gifts. I believe he was correct. Is there anything encouraging in calling people names because of political disagreement?
Do you think that politicians, regardless of party affiliation, are really as concerned with you and me as they are with being elected and continuing to build their wealth? Call me cynical but I don’t. If they did, they would sit down together and start finding a middle ground to help our country which is in enormous trouble. Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton worked together and accomplished some good things despite their many differences. They didn’t take their ball and go home like a spoiled little eight-year-brat.
I don’t believe that the extreme right or extreme left is indicative of who we are as a nation. But that seems to be who drives the narrative these days. Maybe a boring moderate such as myself who seeks fairness and honesty in all my dealings is just not newsworthy.
I wish we could all try to be kind to each other despite our differences. I wish we would listen more and speak less. I wish we were not so deeply divided over politics. I wish we would not make demands on others because they don't see things just like we do. I wish we would leave more room to be wrong. I wish we could sit at the table and talk and not call each other names just because someone does not agree with us.
I wish. I really wish.
I posted the above statement recently on Facebook. It seemed to strike a chord with many. There were many comments posted but one in particular, by Stacy Britt, I found to be especially insightful.
Watching the news is fine. It's the commentary one must steer clear of. I've been thinking about this myself lately and social media is a huge culprit. I never knew most of my family and friends’ political preferences until Facebook. I'm trying really hard to keep away. It's a very addictive platform and... also very dangerous.
I think Stacy’s use of the word addictive is right on point. If you doubt that and you are one to post and comment on politics daily, try scrolling on by without commenting. Better yet take 21 days off from social media. I bet it will be harder than you think. I bet many of us would fail if we attempted to go 21 days without logging in.
I heard a pastor this year say that just because you have a social media page it does not mean that you have a platform. I agree and I don’t have one either.
If I could have any influence it will not be to persuade someone how to vote or how they should view things just as I do. It would be to be fair and reasonable with each other regardless of our race, our gender, and even gasp! Our politics.
Let’s sit at the kitchen table and have a conversation. Let’s try to really listen to those who think differently than we do. Maybe we could reach some level of understanding.
Maybe we could disagree without being so darn disagreeable.
About the Author
Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke.
The Preacher’s Letter is his second traditionally published work of fiction.
Billy’s shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in his first novel, The River Hideaway—Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’. His third novel, The Girl in the River, released in July 2020.
You can read his “Sunday Inspiration” column on the 2nd Sunday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.