This morning I posted A Better Way, Mr. President. It was my response to the president’s speech last night. It was snarky and judgmental against our commander in chief as well as the way he addressed the world in response to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
You know, there’s a reason I hate political debate. It is discussion in which there is never a winner, because both sides are arguing the opinion of things which can rarely be proved. And, if I’m being honest, I’ve seldom seen it happen when debating opinion does anything but make both sides more and more heated, more and more prideful, more and more divided, and more and more disrespectful in their answers to each other.
I’ve had all day to think about it, and to decide if I responded in an appropriate way, and I will happily swallow my pride long enough to say that I could have handled things in a better way. And I should have.
This is not me coming back to you with my tail between my legs. There is no need to do that. While great debate followed that post, half of the people who read it agreed with it. Thousands reposted it and shared it. I received many beautiful notes of encouragement and support for writing it. And, I don’t have a different opinion of what my message was in that post.
What I am saying is that I could have and should have written it in a different way. I wrote it from a place of anger and frustration. But even more, I wrote it from a place of hurt. While often such emotions affect writing in powerful ways, this time it blinded me to the reality of the situation and the purpose of his speech in the first place.
You see, I, like most Americans (and our allies), have been very emotionally attached to this ten-year search for Osama bin Laden. I watched live as the second plane crashed into the twin towers. I was glued to my television as the war on terror unfolded. I have read the news as time and time again, soldiers are reported killed in battle, more troops are deployed, and more and more taxpayer dollars are sent to this war.
It has been discouraging to me that Osama bin Laden has escaped capture time and time again. It has been hurtful to me that he has continued masterminding terrorist plots against those I love.
And so, when I was sitting with my family and a breaking news alert flashed across my phone that Bin Laden was dead and that the president was going to speak, I became euphoric. I began texting my friends in excitement. I felt the sweet taste of victory that our country has been fighting so hard to get. I felt proud of our military and of our soldiers that have given so much. I felt like I was part of something greater.
I went and turned on the President’s speech, excited to hear a beautiful declaration of victory from our commander in chief. I tuned in, expecting a pep talk that would poignantly sum up the emotions that the entire country has felt for the past decade. I wanted my feelings to be validated. And they weren’t. He spoke with little emotion, he kept to the facts, and he delivered his message.
And that hurt. It hurt because I wanted more. It hurt because it didn’t touch on the things that I thought were important. It hurt because it didn’t make me feel motivated and unified in purpose the way I have for the last ten years. But it doesn’t mean it was wrong.
In reflection, that wasn’t the purpose of the speech and so I was judging it incorrectly. While I would have loved to see and hear what I wanted to see and hear, it doesn’t mean it was what was correct for that particular moment.
In truth, what the president said didn’t really matter. The speech didn’t really matter. What was correct, didn’t really matter. What matters is what made me excited in the first place. What matters is that this murderer is dead and he won’t be able to kill any more of my friends, family members, or neighbors.
I wanted something different than what the President gave, and so I let it push me to complain and to attempt to persuade many tens of thousands of people based on an opinion formed in the heat of my emotions. That was irresponsible. Had I used my platform in a better way, I could have done great things this morning. That’s a chance that I have now lost.
I believe in what I wrote this morning, but with the platform I have, I should have written it differently. Bin Laden divided this country on 9/11 and it has remained divided ever since. I have never seen so much hate and animosity in politics since that day. I have never seen so much inability to agree on any point or any issue. And, I have never seen a country so intent on destroying the man in the oval office, no matter who he is and no matter what choices he makes.
And what did I do? I fanned the flame. I wrote a piece so emotionally flared that it divided people even further. In the heat of the moment, I made the divide in this country a little worse instead of a little better. Regardless of what any of us thought about the President’s speech, last night and today we should all be united. We should all be celebrating the lives that he can no longer take. And, we should all be giving gratitude for everybody involved from the bottom to the top.
To those who agreed or found truth in this morning’s post, I’m not asking you to change your mind. I haven’t changed mine. Credit is due where it is due. I’m simply asking you to join with me in looking at the bigger picture. The victory. The triumph. The chance to become more united as a nation.
To those who strongly disagreed with this morning’s post, I appreciate that the majority of you did so with civility. It was an intense debate, but it was a great debate.
To those who threw their hands up and said, “goodbye Single Dad Laughing, I’m done with you…” Farewell my fair-weather friends. That saddens me.
To the many more who found SDL today and have subscribed to follow, welcome. I’m glad to have you. We have a lot of fun around here.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing