Karen, Did You Watch the Debate?

Friend: Karen, did you watch the debate?

Karen: Every f***ing minute of it.

Friend: What did you think?

Karen: “Stand back and stand by”?!! If 40% of my fellow citizens are fine with that then we are in real trouble here.

Friend: No, he just misspoke.

Karen: If he misspoke then he needs to clarify that. He needs to very clearly say, “I denounce the Proud Boys. I denounce white supremacists. White supremacy has no place in our nation.” And he needs to say this without having his fingers crossed behind his back and without a wink-wink nudge-nudge. He has had two days now to denounce the Proud Boys and he has not done this. I think we can assume he’s not going to.

Friend: But did you notice Biden didn’t answer any questions?

Karen: No crap! Trump kept interrupting him!!!

Friend: Well, Biden should be able to handle that kind of pressure if he’s going to be president.

Karen: Biden is not a pre-school teacher. He shouldn’t be expected to placate toddlers having tantrums. Presidents move on the world stage – dealing with other international leaders who are grown-ups – dealing with pre-schoolers having tantrums is not Biden’s area of expertise, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

(I wish I’d taken a photo of the faces of the PBS commentators at the end of the debate to paste here. They looked like they’d just been through a battle – eyes wide, faces drawn. I felt tremendous sympathy for them and empathy with them.)

“Learn to Talk to People You Disagree With”

“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” – Pete Seeger

I remember on Election Day when I was a little girl my mom and dad would go off in a car together to vote. My Dad supported one political party, and my mom supported another – but they cheerfully got in the car together and went to the polls to cancel out each others’ votes. They weren’t angry with each other because they disagreed about politics. They didn’t yell at each other, call each other names, cuss each other out, or think the other person was somehow an inferior human being – lacking in intelligence, reason, logic, and good sense. Nope. They loved each other. They respected each other. Although they’ve since then become members of the same party, at that time, they totally disagreed with each other about American politics – and it was alright.

They were a wonderful example to me.

Although one of my parents was, then, a Republican, and the other was a Democrat, although one was religious, and the other not – they shared the same values. Both my parents valued honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, fair play, compassion, the beauties of Nature, and having a good sense of humor about oneself. They brought their children up to value those things, also.

Here are some useful things I learned about the exchange of ideas and opinions from watching my parents interact with each other:

  • Be kind.
  • Play fair.
  •  Laugh at your own nonsense, before you laugh at someone else’s.
  • Sometimes saying you’re sorry is the most important thing you can contribute to a conversation.
  • Avoid hearsay.
  • Don’t assume that a person is lacking in intelligence or reason just because he or she disagrees with you.
  • Listen.

I’m really grateful I grew up with the parents I did. I think it would be a marvelous thing if everyone treated each other with the same respect my parents gave to each other as they drove off to the polls on election day.

Rules of Engagement