I don't know if this is a great idea, a crazy idea, a great crazy idea, or some other variety of idea (such as, worthless).
I just keep envisioning the notion of a citywide Mingling of the Tribes effort here in Salem that would bring people together in these divisive times to better understand our differences and foster respectful communication, while having fun in the process -- without trying to force agreements.
Back in March I took my first blog post crack at this idea in "Salem should have an annual political roast: 'A Mingling of the Tribes.'"
Nationally, politics is really divisive. Less so in Oregon. Here in Salem, we're kind of at a middling state of political tension. Intense nastiness rarely is overt, but under the surface irritations fester.
Conservatives, progressives, and everybody in-between (or something else) never are going to hold hands and sing kumbaya together. But I've got a more realistic goal:
Local politicians and other community leaders get together annually for a good-hearted roast of each other and, equally importantly, themselves.
...I sort of like this name for the roast: “A Mingling of the Tribes." By tribe, I mean a collection of like-minded people who normally hang out mostly with each other. Salem has many "tribes" with different political, cultural, religious, and other sorts of views.
So I like the theme of mingling, strange bedfellows, that sort of thing.
This morning, during my half-baked barely-concentrating daily attempt at meditation, I found myself thinking, a common occurrence when I'm trying not to think, about the Mingling of the Tribes idea.
Once again it hit me that what bothers me the most about the state of our country today is the divisiveness. I readily admit that I've contributed to this in my progressive zeal to change things. Conservatives do the same thing, divide.
There's got to be a better way. That way isn't going to happen at the national or even state level. If it is going to happen, it will have to happen at a local level where people can meet face-to-face and talk eye-to-eye.
I envisioned a community-wide ongoing effort with a goal of getting different "tribes" in Salem to understand each other better, to communicate with each other more effectively, while still feeling free to fight for what one believes in fairly, respectfully, truthfully, and vigorously.An image that came to mind is football teams eating together before a bowl game and exchanging back-slapping hugs after the game. During the game they battle. Before and after, they mingle. A time for each.
I'd love to see the Statesman Journal and Salem Weekly each get behind a Mingling of the Tribes effort.
I have ideas for how this would go. But almost certainly how anybody thinks it would go isn't how it would actually go. The goal would be to spark some collegial fires in Salem and not worry overly much where or how they spread.
Web site. Facebook page. Community events. Videos. Neighborhood association presentations. And yes, an annual roast. Lots of possibilities.
My wife is a retired clinical social worker who was a psychotherapist in private practice. She knows a lot about how to guide people who vehemently disagree on certain issues to interact positively with each other. I'm sure she'd be glad to advise on the Mingling of the Tribes idea.
I'm not thinking only politically.
Salem also has divisions along economic, racial, ethnic, religious, geographic, cultural, sexual preference, and other sorts of divides. There are countless opportunities to get people talking with each other who strongly disagree on specific issues, yet almost certainly agree on many others, including the basics of living in a complex, often-frustrating world.
Anyway, I just wanted to share these rough ideas that came to me today for what they're worth. Which may not be much. This Mingling of the Tribes idea may be too crazy to pursue. It just feels right to me, especially at this time in our country's history.