By Patti Hewitt
This is a new column for our hometown paper. One that, I hope, will help our community see current events and issues from different perspectives. Welcome to The Breakup.
Why is this column called “The Breakup”? It’s because I believe that we have essentially broken up with ourselves and many of the norms that have historically exerted a moderating influence over our beliefs and behaviors. Norms help to glue us together and guide us, for good or bad. For many people the tearing down of what’s always been, like allowing same-sex marriage for example, represents a direct threat against our society. For others, this new norm is one to celebrate and protect as real social progress. The problem is that we’ve temporarily, I hope, lost the ability to agree to disagree, yet go on with our lives. In other words, we’ve broken up which has made us angry, resentful, suspicious, and hunting for a scapegoat.
Yet, as many of us have learned over the years, breakups can also have a silver lining. Breaking up gives us the opportunity reevaluate our norms and consider if they are still work for us. It lets us explore new ways to put ourselves back together again and yes, that can translate into a shift in control and influence. A well-known theologian and contemplative Christian, Fr. Richard Rohr, describes this as a process of going from order, to disorder, to reorder. Being in the reorder stage of this process is unsettling and can be frightening, yet it’s a necessary step.
As a society, we have gone through breakups before (think the 1960’s for example), yet, this re-evaluation period is fraught with emotions that appear much more complex and difficult to work through. It’s a period of extreme change that has seduced some of us into thinking that if we simply hang on really tight and yell louder, our “better” norm will prevail.
Seeing ourselves as one nation and interacting within a normalized framework helps us navigate complicated relationships and make sense of the world. Does our current world make sense to you? Often, it doesn’t to me. But dear reader, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Our world is an organic place full of imperfect people. It lives, dies, grows, shrinks, and changes all the time. Periodically, throughout the history of the human race, we have faced very big societal upheavals. And this is one of those times.
I am a Democrat and believe in Democratic and democratic principles. Let me ask you though, not to stop here and turn the page. In order to successfully navigate our breakup, it’s going to take more work than simply slapping a label on someone or something, representing the entirety of one’s thought process. That’s frankly, a lazy way to claim you know everything you need to know. We can work a little harder at understanding one another, can’t we?
So, this column is my attempt at working a little harder through our breakup and hopefully, presenting issues in a different light. I believe we have to get serious about finding new ways to communicate with one another and this is my small way of contributing to a better conversation, better relationships, and a better community outside the social media bubble. Exactly how that’s going to translate into a regular column? We’re going to find that out together. I invite you to come with me and explore The Breakup.
Patricia Hewitt is an almost-retired professional living in Richmond Hill and an active member of the Bryan County community. She currently serves as Chair of the Bryan County Democratic Committee. Patricia can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.