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A Second Glance

I went to the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall October 30th.  Ah, it was glorious to be standing (no room to sit—anywhere) amongst thousands of high-spirited, but polite and “gentle people,” half of whom were probably on the same Mall in the 60’s and 70’s for other rallies.  Attendees carried signs and wore costumes to illustrate how sane and reasonable they all are and they were all so extraordinarily nice to one another.  It was a real throwback to an earlier time that I’m not trying to idealize, but do recall with some fondness for its good aspects.

Aside from the scene itself, what interested me most were the signs.  They referred to the sanity or lack thereof in the government, the media, daily life, etc—most with references to specific elected officials and TV networks.  While these signs expressed the sentiments of the crowd, for me, there was the final make-my-day sign that I noticed just before I escaped the throngs and headed toward the Metro.  It wasn’t political and it wasn’t contemporary.  It was timeless.    The sign featured a quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

For me, that was the message of the whole day.

I repeated the saying to as many people as I could during the next week or so and embedded it into my brain.  We need to rethink a negative first impression.  Maybe there is something we missed. This attitude would certainly help in the myriad of negotiations we engage in daily, from family relations to international affairs.  Not that we need to love everyone, let alone agree with everyone.  But we might, as they say, “take time from our busy schedules” to take a second look.

So, I was particularly gratified one day this week when I passed the desk of one of my favorite colleagues as she was getting off the phone, red-faced and clearly angry after an encounter with a very rude caller.  “I don’t like that woman,” she said.  Then she paused.  “I must get to know her better!”

CATEGORY: Meeting of the Minds