Friday, December 24, 2004

No Rave Zone

I'm declaring "Across the Great Divide" a No Rave Zoneā€”like the no wake zones where boats have to slow down so they don't create destructive reciprocating waves. This may fail to change how people converse about how we should live together. I may fail at remaining less outspoken, or to be interesting, or to stay interested myself. But, hey, it's an experiment.

I like to rave. I don't mean staying up all night on Ecstacy dancing to techno music in a warehouse. I mean raving as in ranting. A rave can be positive or negative, while a rant implies loud and even threatening speech. The distinction is often lost on the recipient. (Do people still say "he was ranting and raving"? Or is "bipolar" more politically correct?)

Blogs were made for people like me, for whom barbs are barbituates. But who wants to sit at their computer and watch someone else get high?

Didn't you get enough raving during 2004? I did. I realized this as I tried to come to terms with the Presidential election outcome.

During the campaign year, I had circulated family letters detailing at length the faults of George W. and his administration. I traded shots with my conservative golf partners. ("What did John Kerry do during 20 years in the Senate?" "What did George Bush do as Governor of Texas, besides kiss oil company butts and execute retarded people?") I fired off letters to the editor that were probably too intemperate to be published. I created a poster, titled "Restoring Respect for the Presidency," that listed all the contradictions (lies? flip flops?) during Bush's first four years. Etc.

And I didn't change one person's mind. Not one. It didn't do any good.

You don't persuade people by pissing them off, and persuasion is how we're supposed to do it in a democracy. We need more dialogue and less debate. We can't sit in a rocking boat forever.

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