“You put your left foot in, you take your left foot out, you put your left foot in and you shake it all about. You do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.”
Larry LaPrise, Charles Macak and Tafit Baker
DESOTO, TEXAS, JULY 14, 2007 — A small group of like-thinking adults got up early on this Saturday morning to met at a commun- ity coffeehouse. They met to dialogue on the opening chapters of Al Gore’s new book, “The Assault on Reason.” Yours truly found out about it and was invited to attend because an existing member had visited my blog and liked what she found here. When she told me this and invited me to attend, I was flattered so of course I showed up. And, yes, I am glad that I did; I met some very nice people and we had a good time. But we only danced to the one stanza of the Hokey-Pokey song, the “left-foot” stanza. After awhile, the discussion started sounding like echoes in a nearly-empty convention hall. We had no real dialogue because nobody said anything that the rest of us couldn’t readily agree with — sort of like the so-called political debates we’ve been watching on TV lately between contenders for nomination by the same party.
For those of you who are not old enough to remember the rest of the Hokey-Pokey song, it continues with putting right feet in –taking right feet out, etc., etc. According to Wikipedia.org, it became popular in the USA in the 1950s after being created as a novelty dance to entertain ski crowds at Idaho’s Sun Valley resort. But true authorship for the song and dance is something of a mystery because a similar dance was wildly popular with American servicemen and Britons during WWII, only then it was called the “Hokey-Cokey,” a derivative of “hocus pocus” perhaps, the traditional magician’s incantation. Ah well… if you’re interested, you can find out more about the possible origins of the dance by reading the sited Wikipedia page. The point I’m trying to make is this: Discussion among people who can find little or no room for disagreement is not dialogue.
As our “discussion” was winding down, I made the above point and asked if, as a group, we wanted to do more than just discuss the merits of a book we all feel compelled to read because it reinforces our already-held convictions about what is right and what is wrong with our country. There was general agreement that we should expand our number to include persons with other political leanings, Independents and Conservatives too. So we all tried to think of people we knew who are not in our own camp or on the fringes that might want to join us. We all drew a blank — “Probably a birds-of-a-feather thing,” I thought.
In response to the above thought, I drew an analogy for the group to consider, for what it’s worth: birds do not fly with one wing. Even if it were possible for a bird to stay aloft very long with only one wing, whether left or right, it could not fly other than in circles. And in doing so, any real progress would be illusionary. Perhaps this is at least part of what’s wrong with our so-called democracy today; we’ve become so polarized by the arguments of the far-left and the far-right that we don’t want to even do the whole hokey-pokey dance anymore. Most of us sit out the dance altogether.
If you live in the south-Dallas area, do not think of yourself as leaning to the left in terms of political persuasion, and have some time on your hands next Saturday morning, perhaps you’d like to join us. We’d love to listen to what you have to say, and we won’t even insist that you read Al Gore’s book before showing up. Post a comment to volunteer and I’ll be sure to get back to you on the time and place.
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