You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read Glenn Beck’s recent commentary in the New York Times. “The only way for our society to work is for each of us to respect the views of others, and even try to understand and empathize with one another,” he wrote. He took the words right out of my mouth. I nodded vigorously again as I read on. Grassroots movements, including the Tea Party, Bernie Sanders’ followers, Occupy Wall Street and others, he said, share the same feelings of not being heard, of not belonging, of having no control over their future.
So where did this revelation come from, I wondered? He explains that following the shooting of the five police officers in Dallas, he saw the parents of the gunman interviewed and was struck with their grief “as parents, as Americans and as human beings.” He invited several Black Lives Matter activists on his radio show and got to know them on and off air, he says, and found them to be decent, hardworking, patriotic people. Although he disagrees with them on many things, including politics, he says, “are we not more than politics?” Good for Glenn. He took the initiative and reached out to listen and learn.
He goes on to say, “We are a country in trouble and we have only one way out: reconciliation. We must follow the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and method and move away from a pursuit of ‘winning’ and toward reclaiming our shared humanity…cultivating empathy for one another, in our communities and in the news media, …and in our politics. [This] is the path we must choose as nation. If we don’t, what we have seen this year will be just the beginning of the hate we are about to unleash.”
I couldn’t agree more with my new strange bedfellow, and I am excited (perhaps a poor choice of words in this context) to hear my dearly held sentiments coming from such an unexpected place. But this in itself is interesting. I realize that I expect to hear what I believe from those like me. I expect those that aren’t like me to say something contradictory. I expect that only liberal, progressive, bleeding-heart, peace-seeking folk like myself will expound on empathy and reconciliation.
But Glenn shows me that this concept that we are all human beings and need to show each other respect and empathy is not exclusive to me and my kind. He and I are polar opposites on so many social, economic and political issues of the day, and yet there he is, standing with me, defending my most fundamental belief. This means that there be many more of these believers out there in places I never dreamed of exploring. And it means that I have been a real isolationist when I didn’t need to be. If people who disagree on all kinds of issues can at least commit to respect and empathy….wow, there may be hope!
And so, Glenn and I, together, urge our friends, neighbors, countrymen and leaders to reach across that aisle, that backyard fence, that workplace cubicle – whatever separates you from the other – and offer a little respect and empathy and see what happens.
7 thoughts on “Strange Bedfellows: Me and Glenn Beck”
Thanks to all who are commenting. I’m out of the country and can’t respond right now. More on this trip later…
All I can say to you, Lucy, (and Glenn!) is “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Thank you Lucy, for acknowledging the power of Glenn’s brave stance, and taking the time to help us build more bridges in our minds. Another advantage to looking for what connects us, rather than what divides us, is that it feels good to both parties. Judgment feels awful. More and more, I’m into feeling good, and making others feel good. Simplistic, but enjoyable! Thanks for taking some of the spook out of our political climate.
I am adding to my comment, post-election. Lucy, I believe you did not expect this outcome and had no idea how relevant this post would be. Now is the time to trust in our own and each other’s ability to care across political parties, races, class distinctions, etc. Glenn is one example of how our so-called opponents can surprise and even delight us with their compassion and understanding. The Republican party gets to find its feet now, with no one to obstruct or blame. Let’s hope that all our feet learn more and more how to follow our hearts.
For an extended, nuanced discussion of what connects and what divides us, I would suggest looking at Joshua Rothman’s essay, “The Enemy Next Door: Do good neighbors make good citizens?” in the November 7 issue of The New Yorker.
Glad he’s seen the light. I always thought he was pumping prejudice and bigotry through deliberate lies. But healing can happen to anyone.
Thanks for sharing.
Reminds me of the piece that Stephen Hawkins wrote in the Guardian this week! You should read it!
thanks, will do!