OPINION — My family is fairly political. I mentioned something about that in my last column. If you didn’t believe me then, you will now.
On Monday, my husband and I made our boys participate in a political “honk and wave.” It was our family activity for the week. And it’s not the first time we’ve dragged our kids, sometimes donning Halloween costumes, to support a candidate we believe in.
So with one boy in a green morph suit and the others in masks of submission, we stood familiar ground on a busy city street during the evening drive time, signs in hand and waving like fools.
I’m going to be really honest; it’s a pretty embarrassing exercise – especially when people start flipping you off, which inevitably happens.
A customer at a nearby coffee shop came out to where my husband and two boys stood following an especially vigorous middle finger incident. His approach looked to be a show of support. But it wasn’t. Instead, the man called my husband a “brown shirt” (as in Nazi, not a UPS worker).
My boys were in Normandy, France, in June. They climbed on the Nazi bunkers above Omaha Beach. They visited war museums and saw the vicious glass land mines. They walked the Normandy American Cemetery and heard accounts of World War II battles. And so, they were utterly confused why this coffee man was comparing their father to Hitler’s army.
The coffee man elaborated that in his mind, being at a honk and wave for a Republican candidate – even a moral and decent one – was equivalent to being a Nazi because Republicans ruin everything from education to the rights of tenants.
My husband calmly challenged the comparison. The man retreated to the coffee shop but later returned, admitting he’d had too much coffee and was riled up from the last presidential debate.
I can understand his state of mind. After watching the second presidential debate, my three boys were stripping off their shirts, jumping from beds and wrestling each other. Getting them settled in bed that night was a miserable exercise in futility.
Add coffee to that, and it is no wonder the man was levying the heaviest of insults at someone who honks and waves.
Mark Twain is attributed as saying, “broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.”
In this day and age, even if we physically travel, mentally traveling outside our own point of view and narrative can prove more difficult.
We can effectively create our own little corners of the world on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and even by being selective about what media outlets we listen to.
It’s comfortable to have our point of view confirmed by all the voices around us and to eliminate voices different from our own.
We don’t have to be challenged. We don’t have to be broad. We don’t have to be charitable. But we should be – like the man in the coffee shop.
He didn’t have to come back out to apologize to my husband, a man he didn’t know and was never going to see again. He didn’t have to talk to the candidate, a man he probably still won’t vote for or even agree with politically. He didn’t have to challenge his worldview.
But he did.
Maybe the coffee buzz wore off. Maybe he felt badly about calling a man a Nazi in front of his children.
Or maybe, he recognized he was occupying too small a corner of the earth and wanted more.
Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.