This is my third attempt to write something tonight. Everything I’ve written feels forced, shallow, and dull to me.
I want to write about what is going on in my life, the things that matter to me. I’m following the Presidential primaries in the United States. I’m listening to music. I’m watching documentaries about string theory and fractals and reading Madeleine Albright’s memoirs.
I’m talking to people, strangers who suddenly seem desperate to share their stories, even with a perfect stranger if necessary. And I’m listening. I’m listening not only to the stories people are telling, but to the way they’re telling it, the emotions behind the words, and the hope hidden deep within their ideas.
There’s really no way to translate this into a simple blog entry, is there?
So much is going on in the world right now, things frightening and exciting and beautiful and despicable. 2012 is that kind of year, and here we are—shuffling through as the Earth travels around the sun yet again.
It’s kind of mind-boggling to consider we are walking atop a huge ball of rock hurtling at 67,062 miles an hour around an even huger ball of nuclear explosions that make Hiroshima look like a picture of a firefly, doodled onto a worn piece of paper and forgotten in the back of a notebook.
Gravity, and its quirky nature, is the only thing that keeps our home from becoming a mini-marshmallow in that giant bonfire. And yet, according to the documentary I recently watched, gravity appears to be the weakest of the four forces.
A Matter of Perspective
One of the wonderful things about becoming more aware is that you begin to notice the interconnectedness of it all. You begin to see how just a slight turn of the gaze can make all the difference in what you see and how you interpret it.
Which of course, brings me to politics.
Like so many others, I’ve been watching the 2012 Republican primaries with a mixture of curiosity, disbelief, fear, and dumbfounded amusement. It seems to me that so much of what is being presented as policy by the candidates seems to fly in the face of both reason and good sense.
Never in my life have I seen a group of candidates so blatantly and unapologetically disregard the separation of church and state. Their apparent hostility towards the social and political strides of the last fifty years, in terms of women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, etc., seem more surreal than anything else.
And yet, they fill chairs. They get votes.
It would seem to me that anyone with a bit of sense would look at their platforms and think, “Is this some kind of a joke?”
But that is not the case.
Closed Mouth and Open Mind
Tonight, Fey and I spoke at length to a young man who referred to himself as a died-in-the-wool Conservative. And for some reason, instead of arguing with him, we just sort of listened to what he had to say.
Of course, we disagreed on many of the points he made. But the surprising part of it was not our differences, but how many things we actually did agree on.
Now, there is no way anyone would call either Fey or me conservative. But for a short time, we were able to speak respectfully and pleasantly with a person with totally opposing viewpoints.
It’s a good thing to remember, when the public discourse seems to be getting more and more polarized, that everybody seems to want basically the same thing out of life—happiness, financial security, and the freedom to live their life as they please.
Politics and Quantum Physics
Okay, so what does all this have to do with the four forces of nature? Bear with me; I’m getting there.
Remember earlier when I said that gravity appears to be the weakest of the physical forces? The theory offered in my documentary was something like this—the energy strings that form gravity (gravitons) are actually loops (as opposed to open-ended strings). Being loops, they cannot connect to anything and can be lost between dimensions. Therefore, gravity seems weaker than its fellow forces.
Just like gravity, which is actually quite strong, commonality between people also seems weaker than it actually is. Our prejudices, fears, and arguments are like the other quantum particles—often flexible, but still fixed. We get stuck in these and give them so much more importance than the more fluid forces of communication and cooperation. We forget, in our attachments, that we have a very powerful force working to our advantage.
Tonight, I learned what happens when you let go, just a little bit, of your fixed positions and just let things float for a while. It doesn’t change your inherent nature, nor does it alter your fixed beliefs. But it does allow you to shift your perspective for a while. It lets you let go of your tightly held prejudices and just enjoy cooperation and conversation for a while.
I don’t know if any of this makes any difference in the grand scheme of things. Maybe I should ask the candidates to my house for popcorn and a screen of Physics: The Elegant Universe. It may not improve the state of political discourse, but it might just make a few of these guys think for a while.