Of Villains and Heroes

by mkriegh

The other day one of my young facebook friends placed this on their wall:


After I got over my initial impulse to take them to task for everything I thought was wrong with this agenda, I enthusiastically supported their interest in politics and the exercise of their right to free speech, while telling them that we needed to discuss their evacuation from the dark side;-)

But as I thought about it I realized I should say a bit more. Here is what I wrote them in a personal message:

One question about your earlier post. Why do you post something where the first item on the list of accomplishments is “Obama: Gone?” Isn’t it much better to state things in the positive, like elect Mitt Romney? In the first case you are villainizing an individual. In the second case you are uplifting an individual. In the first case, hatred is the expression, in the second case, love is the expression. I realize that this is how politics plays out, villains rally the base more than heros, but I don’t know why that should be, do you? Mitt Romney should be the hero of the conservatives, not just the any conservative is better than. And if that is the case, your post should start by uplifting him. Don’t you think?

And I thought about it some more. I am not naive. I know the political game is as much about destroying your competition as it is about proving yourself the better candidate. In fact I know its more the former than the latter. But if I can say what I said to a twenty something, why shouldn’t I say it to everyone, myself included? Why do I have to participate in this game on its terms? It can’t possibly lead to anything positive between me and my conservative friends.

President Obama is a hero to me for all kinds of reasons. I lift him and Michele Obama up because to me they are the epitome of the American Dream. I also happen to think that he has been a very good president and she a very good First Lady and that history will judge them much more kindly than my conservative friends do today. So I lift the first couple up and say proudly that I will be happy to see my heroes in the White House for another four years.

Now I have to admit. When George W. Bush was in office I remember saying things like “I can’t wait until Bush is gone!” So I am a pot calling the kettle black. But this is a teaching and learning moment for everyone. Young dogs can teach old dogs new tricks and vice versa. So my young conservative friend, wherever you are. Here is my promise to you. For the rest of the current presidential campaign, and for here ever after, I will commit to lifting up and refuse to tear down. I will raise my heroes up and tell you why I think they shine, and I will listen to you while you raise your heroes up and tell me why you think they shine. I doubt we will change each others minds, but we will have changed the dialogue between us. And in changing the dialogue from hate to love and mutual respect, we have the basis for continuing to learn from one another.

And I further commit to this not just with you, but with everyone around me. I will not tear down, I will only lift up. And when my liberal friends tear down, I will refuse to join them and I will ask them to join me in lifting upl And if you do the same, just think about the amount of dialogue we might together change. And if at the end of the day your man wins? I will have no regrets, because we both lifted up, we didn’t tear down. And because I know that if everyone followed our example, we’d all be able to wake up the morning after, ready to put a shoulder to the wheel and forge a better country, one we both take pride in, one we can both love. And that to me would be the best possible outcome.