Yesterday I posted pictures from the hike we took that we affectionately call the Sound of Music. It was the first day on the mountain where I could feel fall creeping up- cool, crisp, beautiful. There were six of us and three dogs.
What I didn’t post was a picture of a woman sitting with her dog on top of one of the peaks. We came across her as we made our way down the mountain. Until then we had not seen another human on the trail, so we let the dogs run free. Perhaps we should have kept them leashed, I don’t know.
We came up over the rise and our dogs saw her and her leashed dog and bolted toward them. We ran after them as fast as we could, but you know how that goes. Her reaction was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. To say it was an overreaction would be an understatement. Her abusive, profanity-laced language was astonishing to hear – especially in that idyllic place. We apologized, collected the dogs, and walked away in the wake of continued verbal abuse.
As we made our way down the hill, a pall fell over the group. Where once the walk had inspired us, now we slogged down the hill trying to understand what had happened. It was as if the positive energy had been sucked out of the air around us.
That’s how I feel about our current political environment. Everyone is screaming and no one is listening.
We don’t take time to look directly into the face of those who disagree with us and truly listen. I was guilty of this yesterday. I didn’t even look at the woman as she screamed. I just wanted to run away. Maybe dogs had attacked her in her past. I’ll never know, but I’ll carry the memory of her screaming for the rest of my life.
We can’t run away from what is happening in our country. It is real and ugly and scary and until we find a way to look at each other as fellow humans traveling across this proverbial mountain together, we are going to find the energy surrounding us oppressive.
I don’t pretend to have an answer and I do not suggest ignoring the ugly stuff. But can we find a way to look at each in the eye and stop the screaming? Maybe then we can make our way to a better place. Maybe.
But it will take a concerted effort to listen and not to scream our responses. Can we do that in this age of Facebook and Twitter, which seem to give us permission to scream and re-scream our positions and delete or unfriend anyone who doesn’t agree?
Today I’m not optimistic… maybe it’s because I haven’t forgotten what a rotten f’ing terrible dog owner I am…. those words cut like a knife. I just wish we could stop the screaming.