Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Opponents and Enemies

Just an aside. I conceived of a new form of poetry: poetweet. It consists of exactly 140 characters (including spaces and punctuation). I even registered it with Urban Dictionary! It doesn't have to rhyme, nor is there any proscribed rhythm to it. The only structure is that it has to be exactly 140 characters. Here is my first attempt at poetweet:

Of all the sights I see, there is none so beautiful as your shadow. Knowing you're near, and the sun is shining is enough for me. Beautiful.

Go ahead, try your own! The funny thing is that it is not retweetable because you can't add any characters, so you can't attribute it correctly. And here's a further constraint: no tweetisms (like ur for you are, or b4 for before, etc. You have to spell everything out, except that normal contractions are allowed).

Ok, that was an aside. Here's what I wanted to talk about.

I have been struggling with an issue of mine that manifests in political discussions and in team rivalry (among other things). I have let myself become very strong in my expression of political ideas and with regard to sports teams, to the point that I actually get angry and defensive. I know it isn't good because my spirit feels sour when I do it. In a previous post I have committed myself to do better. But in thinking about the issue, I have come to some realizations.

There is a big difference between an opponent and an enemy, but sometimes we blur the distinction. And I think this goes to the increase of incivility in our culture today. When someone has a differing opinion (political or otherwise) we have the choice to treat that person either as an enemy or as an opponent (in this matter). If the former, then we dispense with them along with their ideas. If the later, then we engage with them in helpful conversation, discussing our differences in an effort not necessarily to convert them to our way of thinking, but to understand each other more clearly.

In sports, this means that we don't "rub it in" mercilessly when our "nemesis team" is defeated or when our team is victorious (it's called sportsmanship). I don't know why I forgot this, but I did. Now I am working on regaining this perspective in my life and relationships. One can be a fan of a certain team without vilifying other teams (soccer fans, are you listening?). I don't have to HATE the Dodgers just because they are rivals of the Padres and the Angels, one because they are in the same division, and the other because they are in the same city. I have a lot of work to do on this one!

And I don't have to demonize political progressives in order to hold to a conservative political persuasion. There is no reason why we can't all "get along" and discuss things amicably without resorting to some of the mean-spirited comments and/or actions we sometimes do. This is also true of religious persuasions. I can be a Christian without demonizing Islam or New Age or any other faith. I can hold to what I believe without having to put down someone else's belief. That doesn't mean that I have to accept every faith (or opinion or allegiance) as equally valid, but that I don't need to put it down in order to promote my own.

So I need to see others with differing opinions and allegiances not as enemies, but as opponents. Not as demons, but as friends who just think differently.



Doug said...

Well said.

Richard said...

Hi Glen - yes, I do read your blog from time to time! And I liked this one in particular. I would even venture to say that I appreciate opponents (to my ideas, not to me personally!) because they challenge me, help me grow, cause me to think harder to be sure of my position, to acknowledge ambiguities and the possibility that I might not have the full truth of something, and even to change my mind. A true friend who is an opponent is a real treasure to find and keep!

Now, as for sportsmanship, I MOSTLY agree with you--except that I think that a little good natured smack talk every now and then can be fun. BTW, I noticed that while the Dodgers are tied with the Rockies for 2nd, we are only 3 games back while the Angels are 6 games back.... Oh, wait a second, I kinda DO want the Angels to come in first in their league so maybe we can have that freeway series after all! So, go Angels!