So, I have this theory I’ve been putting together. For now, let’s call it the “Blindingly Handsome Bald Newspaper Editor Theory” — you know, until we can come up with something better.
The way this theory goes is that 80 percent of Americans are decent people. We don’t try to hurt other people. We don’t steal. We care about contributing something to society. We try to protect kids and those who need our protection. You know... basic human-being stuff.
So, of that group, that initial 80 percent, it’s my belief that we agree on about 80 percent of the stuff around us. We want to see our children excel and find joy in life. We want our neighbors to prosper. We support our troops, we want people to be able to worship how they want to worship, we find rapists and child predators to be revolting creatures and we love the promise of our nation.
We don’t like paying huge amounts of taxes, we want to be able to keep roofs over our heads, we want criminals to be prosecuted and we want our police officers and first responders to make it home to their families at the end of a shift. We want our sick people to be able to get treated, we want our elderly to not be taken advantage of and we want to be treated with respect and decency by others.
I’m not saying everyone in this wacky country of ours wants all these things, but I’m sticking with my 80-percent theory. There’s a good chance I’m way off here — and my wife will tell you that I’m wrong far more often than I think I am — but I feel good that most of us agree on a lot of this stuff.
And here’s where it gets a little weird. We seem to spend 80 percent of our time, 80 percent of our energy and 80 percent of our vitriol focusing on that 20-percent we don’t agree on as a whole. We never see our figurative cup as 80-percent full. We only see the 20-percent that is empty. Well, not empty, but full of mean and nasty and distortions and...
But I digress.
Every bit as American as apple pie and baseball and hot dogs and crushing debt is our propensity for taking sides. And, look, I’m not going to sit here and say we need to hold hands around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya” together while we share a Coke and a smile. It’s important we take sides on serious issues, and it’s critical that we each fight for what we believe is right.
I’m a Constitutionalist, by nature, and I passionately believe in a free and independent press, the right to bear arms and every other word, protection and freedom in that beautiful document. I will fight you with every inch of my being if I sense you are trying to strip anything from the Constitution, and I would lay my life on the line to protect it, just as many of you have and would.
You need to defend and fight for what you believe is right. Otherwise, why bother getting out of bed in the morning?
But it’s also at this point where the “80-percent” thingy gets lost. We no longer are people who agree on the vast majority of things in life — we are mortal enemies, on different sides of the moral compass and sworn to fight each other until the death. We disparage one another as being less than human. We demonize those who have the audacity to hold a different opinion on one out of five issues. We “wear the jerseys” of others who share our opinions, and we question the right to exist for people with whom we agree with on 80 percent of life’s major concerns.
Am I the only one who finds this vexing? When did we lose the ability to argue or debate without drawing swords?
So, to summarize the “Blindingly Handsome Bald Newspaper Editor Theory,” 80 percent of us agree on 80 percent of the things around us, but we spend 80 percent of our time arguing and hating one another over that other 20 percent. Also, I don’t know about you, but that name for the theory is really starting to grow on me.
I can’t decide if we are spending our time the way we are because politicians have effectively driven a wedge between us to shore up their bases, or if we have just become so overly sensitive to criticism or disagreement that we lash out at people who hurt our feelings through the simple crime of having their own opinions.
Remember “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Yeah, that’s gone. Now it’s “Sticks and stones will cause me to file a lawsuit against you, and words of negativity or that differ from my own will cause me to curse you out on Facebook, cancel your television show or stop buying your goods and services.”
Eighty percent of us should have the common sense and maturity to be able to argue and debate that other 20 percent without canceling each other. Otherwise, we’re in danger of eventually losing that 80 percent of common ground out of pure spite.