Bigglyness and weeniness

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

I am surprised, in a kind of fearful way, when I see the faces and hear the tenor of the voices at a midterm “rally.”

These faces and voices belong to people whose chosen candidate won the prize, and they are this angry? They are hateful in visage and voice. What would they be like if they had lost?

Obama won, twice, and people who voted for him did not yell “Die!” at the losers who dissed him. If you’ve been paying attention to politics for any amount of time at all, you know this is how Americans are – some of us through an entire administration are going to be saying bad and often awful things about the guy in the White House.

Sometimes the things said are true. Sometimes the things said are lies, or at best exaggeration. Always, what we are saying, in a normal voice or with spittle flying out of our mouths, is opinion. And in this country, we are entitled to it (our opinion, not our spittle flying in someone else’s face).

It’s the palpable hatred that we witness on TV that frightens. The followers mimic their leader, who in his daily scowl heats up and tweets up some real hatred. It is like things we’ve seen in movies of different leaders in different times drumming up hate, starting with the press.

If I were the press on the ramparts instead of the press in my chair, I might be afraid to have to cover one of these “rallies.” It is the wingnut easily aroused by anger that could indeed spin his or her little wingnut shape right off the spectrum of decent behavior and fly right into the face of a guy doing his job as a reporter.

A trained reporter, if she’s doing her job, is the advocate of the reader, he who needs to know what’s going on in the world in order to vote wisely for his best interests. For that great privilege, all voters need someone to fill that information in for them because he and she are working at other jobs – farming, hair dressing, lawyering, teaching, digging ditches, computing, praying.

Another thing that goes on in this country — well, in lots of countries, even Russia – is satire, making fun of, teasing, wittiness. It is not meant to be kind but to make people laugh. Not everyone laughs, but if the one who is the subject of the satire and the making fun of, the teasing and the wittiness, that one has to buck up and take it. Otherwise, that one is just a weenie and a sore loser. A whiner. An angry bird.

It makes everyone, both those for and those against, uncomfortable when leaders cannot lead in this small way, learning how to laugh at oneself along with others who laugh at one. It is a sign of bigglyness to laugh, to have a sense of humor (which means the sense to laugh at oneself). It is the stuff of which maturity is made. Of being above it all. Sometimes even of joining in and congratulating a particular witticism — now that is a leader, a smart man, a man of stature – mental and spiritual stature, not necessarily physically large stature.

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