February 3, 2011 | Posted in: Philosophy

Sunday marks President Reagan’s 100th birthday and I guess it’s as good a time as any to let everyone know I’ve a thing for politics. Always have, always will.

I love that the definition of politics has to do with ‘the art and science of governing people’. What could be more noble than that?! I enjoy studying politics, thinking about politics, debating politics. I also enjoy the simpler pleasures like the little sticker we’re given that says “I voted today”. Makes me proud to live in a country where we’re free to vote … and free not to.

I actually considered running for office on a local level. As a conservative. But the more I thought about it the more I realized how much I dislike the mud-slinging that takes place on both sides of the aisle.  Turns me cold.  The older I get the more I prefer the political posture of, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Until recently I really couldn’t understand how a liberal could be a liberal. It was a tough puzzle for me. We all have access to the same information, the same news sources. You’d think we’d all come to the same conclusions — and we don’t! As to discussing politics in mixed company (that’s mixed as in liberals and conservatives), I’ve watched friends blow up (me included) over the silliest of things. One mention of Sarah Palin or Nancy Pelosi? Kaboom! Maddening.

Recently a sweet [conservative] friend of mine, Kevin Mullaney, helped me solve my dilemma by saying, “Cindy, the choice to be either liberal or conservative has got to be a right-brain-left-brain issue. You know — we’re born with the tendency to be liberal or conservative? Hard-wired from the get go? Predisposed based on whether our brain is artistically or intellectually inclined?” And, voila!, I knew in my heart Kevin was absolutely right!!! As far as I’m concerned there can be no other explanation!

According to about.com:

The concept of right brain and left brain thinking developed from the research in the late 1960s of an American psychobiologist Roger W Sperry. He discovered that the human brain has two very different ways of thinking. One (the right brain) is visual and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The other (the left brain) is verbal and processes information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. Sperry was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1981, although subsequent research has shown things aren’t quite as polarized as once thought (nor as simple).

(above emphasis, mine)

Whether or not Kevin’s hypothesis is correct, or whether Roger Sperry’s Nobel prize sways you, it really doesn’t matter to me. I’m just thrilled with my new found belief that political inclination is pre-determined based on the organic matter that comprises our individual brains! Whew. It simply makes my world make so much more sense.

I’m now able to see certain groups of people in a whole new light. I can look at my liberal friends with a higher level of understanding, love, patience and respect. It’s as if I’ve saved myself all sorts of aggravation. Prior to this knowledge I’d think, ‘I love them … but dang … for the life of me I can’t understand their thinking when it comes to government and politics!’ I can now look at my sisters (whom I adore!) and appreciate how they and their right-brain thinking has them show up in the world — funny and fun-loving — tenderhearted and liberal! Something worth celebrating for sure.  😉

As to my being conservative, I’ve always been this way. Even when I was young I can remember disagreeing with my father’s liberalism. His right-brain visual perspective didn’t make any sense to my left-brain sense of logic. Though I wouldn’t have been able to adequately verbalize my internal beliefs at the time, the realization that I was conservative occurred as I watched my father have a meltdown in the middle of a heated political argument with his siblings. Whether he was right or wrong on the issue they were debating, I felt his premise was illogical and emotional. I was seven years old.

To state my case further, let me tell you about our daughter, Chelsea. While my husband and I were packing her up for her transition to college, we laughed as we realized she’d been collecting elephants (the iconic symbol of conservatism) her entire life. As she affectionately turned over a favorite piece of her collection in her hands, her father and I made the comment that she must be a conservative because she grew up with conservative parents. So like our daughter, and with a smart grin, she instantaneously shot back with, “Sorry. You can’t take credit. I was BORN conservative.” And, so she was.

The great joy that comes with this realization of left-brain-right-brain sensibilities makes me appreciate on a greater level my friends who love and actively support presidents Clinton and Obama. They are perfect counterbalances to my love and support for Reagan and Bush.

Despite how we voted in the previous elections, we must all agree that all four men, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Reagan have, in one way or another, proven their love for our country (and/or our country’s love for them). Each also possesses (to a high degree) the courage required to serve for the benefit of all. Whether conservative or liberal each of our presidents are forever part of a very exclusive club comprised of only 44 men, all of whom were elected by free people to, arguably, the most powerful position in the world. From George Washington to Barack Obama, we have cause to be proud of them all.

As it pertains to politics, fifty-four years of life has taught me I’ll always be conservative. My sisters and some of my best friends will always be liberal. But now, in the autumn of my life, I can celebrate the joy that comes with embracing my liberal friends without feeling frustrated by their beliefs. This new approach suits my sense of logic and makes it much more fun for me to accept opinions that are diametrically different from mine. Something to be excited about because, despite our differences, I know my liberal friends want peace and prosperity and hope every bit as much as I do.

Finally, we as a nation are facing some very serious and challenging issues. That said, nothing is beyond our ability to solve. There’s tremendous talent stemming from both Right Brained Artists and Left Brained Thinkers. Like Yin and Yang, one cannot exist without the energy of the other. Liberals contribute half-a-brain to our society. Conservatives contribute the other. One sees the big picture, the other sees the pieces. Together, and in a heartbeat, we can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Apart, we’re lobotomized.

It takes both the Left and the Right to make our country great. And, though it might not as simple as it sounds, embracing our unique contributions is certainly less polarizing and can help us be more civil in our dialogue. Maybe, just maybe, if we could spread this belief around about the importance of both left-and-right-right-and-left-brain-thinking, we could make some serious progress in making ours a better country and nation. To do so would be taking a whole-brain rather than a bird-brain approach to governing our country … at which time I’d be more than happy to run for office.  😉

yin-yang

Happy Birthday, President Reagan. And, President Obama, I want only the best for you and for our country. Know that I think you boys ROCK!  🙂

PS.  Here’s a link to find out if you’re either right brained or left brained:

http://similarminds.com/brain.html

Take the test and let me know if you think we’re on to something that could make a difference!