Florida is ground zero
Let the healing begin
My friend Donna shared the following encounter with a freedom loving Floridian:
“Just had a conversation with a new resident from CA. She hated the Gov in CA because he had too many rules regarding Covid. She loves FL because it is Free. She believes all that Fox network and Trump have been dishing out since the beginning.
"It's no different than the flu."
"Hospitals are padding their numbers because they get more money."
"Only the elderly and people with co-morbidities need to be concerned."
"As long as you have a healthy immune system, you will not end up in the hospital or die."
"You are not contagious if you don't have symptoms."
"School age children don't have to worry because they won't get it bad, even if they get it."
"If you have had it once, you are immune from getting it again."
She sees no reason to be vaccinated. "It's all a big political plot."
Oh and by the way..."the reason why companies..." (that pay their employees crap) "can't get help is because all the people are able to get more money by staying home and collecting unemployment."I reminded her that the Country's unemployment rate is currently low enough to be considered optimal. And everyone collecting unemployment is included in the current 5% unemployment rate. Poor paying jobs now have to compete to get new employees and keep them.
I gave her some facts about Covid and she told me to do more research because I am believing the media hype. I recommended she research in more than one place to find reliable information.
Can't convince people who will only listen to the bombastic rantings of those with an agenda to discredit their foes, and choose not to take that extra step to verify the so called facts.But this issue will end up killing more of their own supporters unless they change their message. Suddenly they have begun to tell people they should get vaccinated...now that the hospitals are filling with younger, non vaccinated supporters. Their story is swaying, but, reversing those vaccine conspiracy theories won't be easy. Much like the stolen election conspiracy theory.
It is sad that we are going through this again and this time unnecessarily. It's been so nice to feel safe for awhile and be able to hug other vaccinated loved ones and friends.
And we have red-tide with the death of marine life happening now, again, too. Greed and corruption screaming and pointing fingers the wrong way to gaslight. If its loud, angry, fear based and repetitive, a large number of people will believe. It is the oldest and most successful marketing and power strategy. The difference now is our instantaneous ability to communicate directly using algorithms and social media platforms to attract and hold onto the attention of those targeted, reaffirming an intended message until it is considered fact. But those with integrity and truth have those same marketing communication tools. I have faith that truth tellers and truth seekers will prevail. But in this country, even nefarious people have the freedom of speech, so it is much more challenging.”
Donna is doing the right thing = engaging rather than confronting. Her approach is enabled by her faith in a positive outcome … and the fact that her correspondent was willing to listen.
Generally the right wing side of such encounters is well protected against “fact bombs.” Assertions don’t work. However, a Socratic approach is more called for with hardliners. Always counter their narrative points with a question, thereby keeping the convo ball in their court. By stimulating their thinking, there is a chance that they would become intellectually engaged - which is the essence of liberalism along with a deep sensitivity to the human condition. When your conversant starts responding with questions of her own, that is a clue that the lockstep is broken. It’s so nice when two opponents are respectful of each other and willing to hear the other out. No concession need be made in the moment. Both parties depart in thoughtfulness. That’s the most one can expect.
I was brought up in an America where the common good was at the core of democracy and compromise or consensus drove the engine of government. Inalienable rights did not mean individual freedom to do whatever you wanted regardless of how it affected your fellow citizens. There was a sense of our all being in this together. The emphasis on human values and intellectual engagement -both from the left and right- was in the liberal tradition. Our schooling eschewed narrow patriotism in favor of the arc of history that ran from ancient Athens through Rome and on to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Ever since Churchill diverted us from Roosevelt’s dream, reason and intellect have receded in our discourse.
Can we wait for our politicians to build a bridge across America’s Great Divide? Better the conversation starts among we the people.