Listening to the re-broadcast on Prairie Home Companion last evening made me think of an old Yiddish story.
Two men come to their Rabbi to have him solve an argument they've been having. The first man told his side of the story, explaining it well.Garrison told a story from Lake Wobegon about the local town council arguing who was to pay for the capture and relocation of a bear that had been wandering town. One side, the interventionists, he called them, felt it was essential to spend the money to protect the children of the community. "If even one child's life is saved," they argued, "it will be worth more than we have to pay."
"You're right," said the Rabbi. "Let me hear the other side."
The second man then explained his side of the story, also explained clearly and well.
"Hmmm," said the Rabbi thoughtfully. "You're right."
At that the Rabbi's right hand man leaned over and whispered in his master's ear. "Rabbi. They can't both be right."
The Rabbi took but a moment and looked at his assistant. "You're right."
The laissez-faire side, argued however, that it far more important to teach the children to watch out for bears and how to avoid them. After all, there will be other bears in life.
He thought it was a wonderful argument and discussion. Why? Because it was an argument in which both sides were right!
Which reminded me of many of our current political discussions in which one side must, absolutely MUST be wrong and the other side MUST be right. The facts or nuances be damned.
But sometimes, perhaps more often than we are willing to admit, both sides are right. That is the truth as I have often seen it, because each side does have a piece of the truth. No one usually has all the truth, but isn't that how we make honest, informed decisions? Isn't it when people are willing to look at both sides as having truth in them that we can find the ground of agreement instead of always and forever finding the grounds of disagreement?
It is the only way to truly run a democracy since, by definition, bot sides of the argument are often made up of people whose opinion is important to bring to the debate. Both sides are right and deserve to be heard and respected.
Perhaps I'm just a dreamer, but we have 37 days until the mid-term elections. Do you think we might have some of this willingness to listen and discuss happen?