Take note, I’m feeling a little rantish today, so brace yourself. But please, I hope you’ll keep reading. I promise it won’t devolve into vitriol. That would be ironic and hypocritical – you’ll see what I mean.

Yesterday, a friend on the ‘Book posted a link to an organization that is growing food in New York City. My friend found the link inspiring, and so did I. I watched the video and felt myself getting a little giddy over the idea of growing my own garden next summer. But then, another friend of my friend (you know how this works) posted this:

I like gardening but there is something about this urban gardening that has the hairs on the back of my neck standing. It is mostly pushed in the media and specifically the left wings of the media. I know that sounds redundant but the” More than most left wing” of the Media such as Richmond’s Style Weekly. It reminds me of a glossily version of the various Marxist extremes such as in Cambodia where the cities were emptied and people forced to collective farms or Stalin and giving the land to city dwellers pushing out the “rich peasants”. The erosion of the cities is in full swing by the left. I wonder if this is the beginning of the second phase of their Marxist Utopia.

I was absolutely flabbergasted. How was the local, neighborhood-based approach to raising food like collectivization in Stalinist Russia? Whoa.

All of this got me to thinking hard about the way I (and many others it seems) assume things about people’s views simply because of where they fall on the political spectrum. I know that when someone says they are conservative, it’s easy for me to “get my hackles up,” to quote the gentlemen above, because I know it’s likely we disagree on some fundamental things. But I try, I really do, to back myself down and listen, to ask questions, to try to understand. If we have a reasonable conversation, I can usually walk away feeling like I learned something about that person and what they care about, even if I don’t come to agree with them. (And sometimes, I really do change my mind about things.)

Maybe if our ears were this big.

It seems though that we are not willing to listen to other people at all now. We want to be staunch in our views and protect them as if their fragile but precious things that make us who we are.

Folks, we are not our ideas. Our value is not given to us by whether we are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, small business owner or factory floor worker. Our value is not formed by whether we think government should be small or that entitlements are signs are compassion. Our value is based in the fact that we are loved. That’s it. Our only value is that we are loved fiercely and mightily.

Last night, I was talking to a friend, telling him how I was rethinking what I had been taught about the Confederacy, and he said something that really made me pause:

It really makes me mad the way the Confederacy is portrayed. “You get kids that don’t know anything about history comparing the Confederate Army to Nazi Germany.”

Somehow, we have slipped as a culture into this pattern where we think we can simplify everything down to “right” and “wrong.” Of course, there is right and wrong in the world, but no one person, no one side of a war, no one political party is all right or all wrong. It’s NEVER that simple.

We all have stories to tell, stories that have shaped our perspectives, stories that deserve to be heard. As my wise friend Ed said once:

I’m at a place right now where I need to focus on telling stories rather than debating topics. I’ve learned that it’s hard to question the integrity of a story, but if I talk about ideas, I find that others can easily label and dismiss me. If I tell my story, then I’m a human being who is more than a label.

Now, if we could just find a way to listen to one another.

What do you think of the way we speak to one another when we disagree? What do you make of our tendency to be fearful when we think someone is on the other “side” of an issue?