It was election week. Corona, politics and corona politics left little else to think about. As palpable tensions of abounding unknowns saturated the nervous airwaves, concerns grew ever deeper. Something had to give; either there was to be a seismic shift toward reason and sensibility or the end of the United States of America I once knew.
Since there was no escape I decided to really dig in and the best way I knew was to visit my dear, ever-so-wise (yet conservative) 93-year-old dad, living on the midwestern coast of the grand old peninsula known as Florida. The opportunity became even more defined when I learned my brother and his wife had been planning to drive down. To avoid the increased risk of catching the contagion onboard a plane, I hitched a ride.
The last time my car, vim, and vigor, went south was back in the days of college spring break. Surprisingly, this 17-hour drive proved relatively easy. My brother’s brand-new Range Rover far surpassed the beat up 1968 Plymouth Fury station wagon. We managed to avoid the redundant talking points, debates and discussions by listening to an assortment of non-political podcasts.
Some intended to be funny, others a bit more serious, but all consumed big chunks of time. I drifted off several times as none really held my interest. During the drive I leaned heavily on the espoused words of wisdom from much wiser people than myself.
“Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.” But wait! My retired teacher-mind countered, “even if it’s plain old dumb and doesn’t make any sense at all?”
Though my opinion protruded like wily thorns, ready to prick anyone distorting reality, holding tight to those wise sentiments, we never discussed our political stance or thoughts. Like any good teacher I was compelled to give them bonus points for their behavior. In fact, to this day, many weeks later, I have no idea how they voted.
There I was, in the middle of a political whirlwind where Fox “news” filled the cable wires and unfurled flags in all shapes and varieties proudly flew to hail the chief. I wasn’t looking for a fight, but my dukes were slightly raised just in case.
Other than wearing sunglasses and his Covid mask, Dad’s ears have pretty much lost functionality. He owns hearing aids but only uses them when he is told to and no one really likes telling their father what to do. His cable offers over 200 stations along with Netflix and the rest, but when his set isn’t tuned to the History Channel it’s Fox News. Morning is Fox time with his TV volume set to near maximum.
There was little doubt his rightwing neighbors had no problem with its blaring propaganda. My only sister (and her husband) live next door and guess what? They too are full-fledged Trump-i-teers, with flags to boot. Gotta love ‘em!
Morning walks served many purposes. They got me out of the house offering much needed physical exercise, but more importantly, they supplied the opportunity to contemplate ignorance, yes, that of my own, but more so the ignorance of others. On a more Christian approach they offer opportunities to contemplate love and forgiveness. Since I have several blood relatives who have drunk the Kool Aid (many more than I’d like to admit) they must be loved and forgiven.
While my brother and his wife are able to steer away from political debate with the notion “everyone is entitled to their opinion,” my sister stands with a sword in hand. Election day was soon approaching when we immediately got off on the wrong foot. After not seeing each other for nearly a year, instead of enjoying each other’s company, it seems I couldn’t hold back and somehow pissed her off. She left that evening with an attitude, but I was happy to see the following morning was steeped in brotherly love.
In the thick of it my teaching expertise and power of persuasion has clearly lost muscle but on the sunnier side, visiting Florida provides great lessons in forbearance and forgiveness. Gotta love ’em!