People talk about red states and blue states.
They talk about them like they are opposite sides of a coin. Like that explains the intractable partisanship around us.
They forget that those colors have existed, side by side, on the American flag since Betsy Ross sewed the first stitch.
We are not a country that has ever agreed on the same things at the same time for the same reason. Lockstep is just not in our national character.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t use our differences in a constructive way.
It’s all about give and take, checks and balances. We just need to stop looking at things with our minds made up.
Our country has become nonstop battle lines. There are different television stations so people on one side don’t have to hear the voices of the other. Friends get the boot on Facebook if they don’t post right (or left).
And election years make it worse. Red and blue turn dark and ugly instead of blending through compromise to shades of violet.
But nothing worth doing in our history has ever been done without a joining of hands and an acknowledgment that we couldn’t do it alone, that maybe, just maybe, someone didn’t have all of the answers.
Does that mean that we don’t speak up? That we don’t say our piece, put our best ideas on the table, advocate for what we think is right? Not at all.
But what we seem to have lost is the humility to understand that someone else might have thought about something we missed, the respect to allow the other side to have their equal time and the grace to bow to a better idea when it comes along.
We also seem to have forgotten that red and blue aren’t the only colors on the flag. We dismiss the white.
Talk about our colors, and white comes between red and blue. The white is what makes all of the patterns work.
Take away the white and we have neither stars nor stripes, just a big red L and a solid blue square. The white, a quiet color that just sits there and listens instead of shouting, is what gives the rest of the flag context.
So stay a blue state. Keep being a red voter.
But don’t forget about those opportunities to pause and think about those neutral moments along the way in the land of the free and the home of the brave.