I find myself biting my tongue, while screaming at the top of my lungs internally, all the time. It’s just too much right now. All of America, that is – on social media, in the grocery store, in the drop-off line at elementary schools, at school board meetings, everywhere in our government, and with media coverage of any and all things. It’s all just too much.

Absolutely everything is polarized and political. People on all parts of the spectrum really need to consult a dictionary about the definitions of opinion and fact, and people on all parts of the spectrum just cannot seem to communicate anymore without some crazy drama.

Maybe this is a side effect of covid and quarantine – we’ve spent so much time isolated and in our own heads that when confronted with people again we’re either an excited puppy who can’t calm down or a selfish human who’s found an audience. What has happened to social discourse? To letting the person who only has one item go in front of you in the checkout? To kindness and to humanity and to respecting others? Why can’t we admit that someone from our political party isn’t doing a good job, or behaved badly?

And where are all the voices in the middle? The people who aren’t “black and white” absolutes on everything and who can see the validity of some points from both “sides?” The people who have feelings that are complicated because of their life experience. Maybe one of the casualties of quarantine is that the voices of the middle are silent, largely because they’re just exhausted.

I keep a note in my phone where I sometimes write down things I want to say but hold back. I also have email drafts I’ll never hit send on. Sometimes it’s helpful to just get those thoughts out, to put them somewhere, so the moment can pass more quickly. Thoughts that are unpopular, and it just isn’t worth the energy (or I know the lady also shopping for apples doesn’t care what I think about her “facts” about why the shelves are empty).

-I completely respect that you don’t want to wear a mask. But in order for us to peacefully coexist you need to not stand one foot behind me in line. You need to respect people’s personal space at all times, even if we’re not in a pandemic and whether or not they wear a mask. And if you see others wearing a mask the good-human thing to do is give them even more space, making the positive assumption that they or someone in their life is at risk in ways you do not understand.

-Thank you for your feedback on how little we can actually trust doctors, but I cannot believe that the pediatricians and oncologists and surgeons and cardiologists who went to so much effort to save my daughter’s life would then be so awful as to recommend that she get a vaccine that they secretly know could kill her. Maybe you need to check yourself, and also please post a screenshot of your high school report card so we know with certainty how much of a genius we’re actually working with here.

-Who cares about Tom Brady?! Every time I see him, I think of Ross Gellar and his glow-in-the-dark teeth.

This is my opinion. I know nothing about football.

-I believe that masks should be worn in schools right now, but I understand your concerns about how they might be impacting kids. I have a child who’s a cancer survivor, and I know I worry more about her than I probably should. That child is also in speech therapy and she and many others need to see faces. I can want kids to wear masks right now and at the same time believe that they aren’t great long-term. This does not make me a snowflake. I actually agree with some of what you are saying, which you’d know if you shut up for even three seconds.

-More than any other reason, I want the pandemic to be over so my girls can live more care-freely and so they get to experience all the things. I want them to go to dances and games and plays and concerts. I want kids I don’t even know to show up at my house and want to play with the girls and stay up all night watching movies and goofing off. If your child isn’t wearing a mask and isn’t vaccinated, I do not want my children to sit next to yours. I love you and your kids and I respect your right to make choices, but you are a risk to people we love. All of these things can be my true feelings at the same time.

-Cheers is not even close to being the greatest sitcom of all time. You could *maybe* make an argument for Frasier, but just stop it with that ridiculousness.

-Some of you are so worked up about critical race theory and you want to ban books because you have no idea why you actually think what you do and/or you cannot have hard conversations with your kids. You have nothing to fear from kids being exposed to historical facts or other ideas if you have a leg to stand on with your own beliefs or arguments. I will sit down with my girls any day of the week and talk to them about abortion, slavery, tenets of other religions, or gun control. They might one day think differently than me and that is not something to be afraid of. We should be raising children to think critically, not to be mini-mes – and they can’t do that if they are not exposed to the good the bad and the ugly of all things.

-Every legislator and voter needs to spend one week sitting and watching in a pharmacy as parents and the elderly and people from all age groups and walks of life hear the cost of their medicine and then have to make a decision about whether or not to purchase that prescription.

-Youngkin’s implementation of an email address where people can report teachers for talking about race or divisive topics reminds me of text written about the Gestapo. “Some citizens passed on information about their neighbors, family, and friends…The information passed on by informants typically accused someone of breaking the law or of being a criminal in some way. The information provided was not always based on fact and could often be rumor or suspicion…Informers had various motives including antisemitism, racism, a strong belief in Nazi ideology and governance, fear, personal gain, professional gain, and personal disagreements (e.g. informing the Gestapo that someone was a communist in response to a personal dislike or argument with that person). Most informers were aware of the consequences of their actions.” What are we afraid of parents? Is it that our children will see ugliness, or more so that they will see ugliness in us?

Every news outlet and pundit tells us that the issue, whatever it is, is clear and it’s very black and white. But that’s a lie. There is so much gray in the world, and it’s in the middle. It’s in the people with complicated and even conflicting emotions and stances. It’s in millions of people who have processed information and life experiences into much more than the simplicity of black and white. It’s unpopular, but I think the genius is in the gray and the empathy is in the gray and the humanity is in the gray and the love is in the gray. The truth is in the gray.

“Middle gray” is the center tone between absolute back and absolute white.

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