Banman – Disagree without being disagreeable
Kremmling, CO Colorado
Those of you who remember the television show Frasier know that the main character, portrayed by Kelsey Grammar, hosted a call-in show that was based in the city of Seattle. As a psychiatrist, Frasier would field calls from listeners who often bared their souls and unloaded their psychological “baggage.” Frasier would then offer advice that he hoped would bring good mental health.
The focus of the show, of course, wasn’t on actual psychological advice. It was more about Frasier and the relationships he had with his family as well as his relentless quest to fill the void in his life that was never quite filled by his ex-wife Lileth. At any rate, in the show I watched the other night, Frasier reached the end of his Freudian knowledge, his comedic wit and certainly his compassion. In a brief but vigorous tirade, he unloaded on the people of Seattle, basically calling the people of the Emerald City a bunch of ungrateful whiners.
It really wasn’t much as far as tirades go, but Frasier intended it to be an off-the-air vendetta that would release a little steam. Only trouble was, he had failed to actually go off the air. It would be kind of like overhearing your elementary school PE teacher talking about a klutzy moment you had in gym class. When you fell, the teacher had been Mr. Compassion. What you overheard from the teacher’s lounge was how Johnny (your name) would likely never be able to actually walk and chew gum at the same time.
The show then played to its inevitable end with Frasier taking his share of lumps from his listeners, his family and ultimately from a room full of nuns (you really had to see the show to understand that part). There was also, however, a cathartic effect to whole situation.
It reminded me of those times when we catch ourselves cutting right to the chase, laying all the cards on the table, talking from our gut and getting to the point. Political correctness be hanged, we sometimes find ourselves dropping all pretense, looking somebody right in the eye and speaking from our soul. What emits from our mouths isn’t always pretty and it often causes a little pain. At first, it seems like a horrible idea and we just want to crawl in a hole.
However, something interesting always seems to happen. When feathers get ruffled and feelings get bruised, we often find ourselves in a mode of self-examination. The people that are the often-unwitting target of the verbal download find they see themselves in a new light. That is mostly because things are seen from a different angle. It is amazing what can be seen from that new vantage point. Many times it is a time of growth. If you allow yourself the freedom, it can be the time when you make the most dramatic improvements in your life. And that can happen when some situation forces a conversation that took us beneath the surface of gratuitous and mundane conversation.
I thought of that in the context of some of the hard times we are going through. I thought of it in the context of discussions people are having about what they may have to do without. When those discussions are about something in which we all have a joint stake, it can be easy to allow those discussions to become emotional battlegrounds.
This appears to be a year with many contested elections at the municipal, special district and county level. That is good. It is the way a democratic system is supposed to work. My hope is that during these elections people will speak frankly and directly. Not to be hurtful, but to put the real issues on the table. A discussion, by its very definition, involves two parties, one to speak and one to hear. That is a street that must allow traffic to travel in both directions. My further hope is that these frank discussions don’t degenerate to personal attacks. Different viewpoints are part of our nature. We are not clones.
I look forward to the municipal and special district elections. As we go into the primary season and finally to the general election in November, let’s endeavor to have open discourse. There will be disagreements, but that isn’t a reason to be disagreeable. And, when something is said that doesn’t sit right with you, examine it thoroughly before you retort with vengeance. What you see might be instructive.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
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