We have a family friend who hates pickles. They stain everything they touch with their taste. Even if the waiter takes them off the plate, our friend can still tell and sends his burger or sandwich back. We tease him about it, but he’s right pickles make everything they touch taste like pickles.
Maybe you like pickles. I like the sweet gherkin kind. But, I’ll pass on most others. Everyone has different tastes, different opinions. Culture is a big thing. A huge influence on us and there are numerous subcultures under that big umbrella. Just like the pickling process, we are steeped in culture and it shapes our outlook on life.
The clash of worldviews can get contentious, heated and hotly debated. Whether you are woke or anti-woke, politically correct or proudly politically incorrect. I’ve recently learned that the term “woke” had a different meaning than what it means now. You can look it up on Wikipedia if you’re curious. The term began to be used in the 1930’s.
The battle lines are drawn and everyone on one side is right and the people on the other side are either deluded, misled or outright evil. Its us vs. them.
On the other hand, there are lines in the sand and we need to decide where we stand on issues and politics. Or we’ll just get into people-pleasing which gives us a false peace.
I have learned over the years that some conflict, (when done in the pursuit of truth), is a good thing even when the disagreement is uncomfortable.
Dehumanizing our neighbors and family members for believing or voting for the wrong party isn’t the right way to love our neighbor. At least, I think so. Others might not want to love their neighbors.
I had an idea to run for the school board in our recent election. Found out about a local meeting and went to see what it would be like and try to make a decision whether to run or not.
That particular evening was a double event. First was a very detailed presentation geared for those who might run for the school board. They explained what exactly the school board did and what the various school departments do, I learned a lot and their work was varied and the information was very helpful.
After the presentation, I went to the official School Board room where I settled down to what I assumed would be a boring meeting. Boring it was not.
About a dozen people came for the public comments and I forget how many via voice mail for those who couldn’t attend the meeting. Regardless, it was a lot of people.
In my conservative city there were a number of well-spoken people against masks being required in schools, a few protesting some liberal agendas in classrooms and less than five people who were happy about how things were going. It was a contentious group of people and the school board dutifully let them have their say. The meeting was public and being streamed online. A couple of the speakers threatened to sue the board members personally if they enacted any mask mandates. Emotions got heated before one man was ordered to leave after he repeatedly interrupted the meeting after the public speaking was finished.
I had some thoughts. One, even though the board listened to all 17 or 20 people say their 5-10 minute pieces, they didn’t say anything afterwards to acknowledge people’s concerns. I could see how the school board members felt personally attacked after learning how much intricate interdisciplinary work they do as a school board.
At the time this happened, there was no mask mandate, (county or school district wise). Then to the school board it appeared a bunch of angry parents protested on an unrelated issue that was a current non-issue.
I learned later on that a nearby school board for a neighboring district had voted to enact a mask mandate when the county didn’t require one. Which prompted the huge response from the public against our district’s school board enacting any mask mandates. But there was no such item on the agenda for that night or known future meetings. This happened just before schools would reopen for the fall in 2021.
I could also see it from the parents’ perspective how they were tired and frustrated with the academic world, particularly the local school board ignoring their objections and the school system indoctrinating their children with an ideology they personally disagreed with. The school board is supposed to be the voice of the voters and a civilian watchdog in how the school district uses tax money to run the schools.
This was a small instance of the larger culture war being played out across the country from local municipalities to the federal level. Much like how the pickling process flavors the cucumbers. There are numerous recipes for different types of pickles and flavors. Sort of like how there are conflicting subcultures.
I had concluded not to run. The three times a month board meetings plus the other off the clock hours of prep work, the lack of funds to run for office, and the cost of getting a Lyft or Uber to and from the required meetings wouldn’t be feasible. I had good intentions and even though I had strong convictions and a long history of working well with people I disagreed with, Part of me wonders “what if.” But I have duties to my family that I would eventually neglect if I did happen by a miracle to win. And as my night in the school meeting showed me, public office, no matter how small, is right in the middle of the culture war.
School boards and the academic world are well known for being politically correct and liberal. Their literal job is to shape minds. What is debatable is they are foisting their own ideology on the next generation instead of presenting the different perspectives accurately and fairly.
Me personally, I’d rather avoid getting involved in the culture war. I don’t want to be caught in the whirlwind that Jordan Peterson and other unfortunate people find themselves due to convictions which cause conflicts, thus erupting into yet another clash of the culture war. Often those brave souls who stand for their beliefs are socially outcast, financially punished, and/or misrepresented or portrayed badly in mainstream media.
When push comes to shove, maybe I won’t stand up under the pressure when its time for me to stand for what I believe in,
I’ve got my family to consider too. We all have various health issues and that was also in the forefront of my mind of when I was trying to decide to run or not. My family was supportive, but I didn’t want to get them caught in the maelstrom of the culture war or the limelight of public office either. Just because I wanted to make a difference in the children of my school district. I don’t have children of my own and I’m not married. But, I’ve always loved kids and wanted to pitch in. But, 2021 wasn’t the year to do so. Maybe someday I might run. Who knows?
One theory is I think that fuels the culture war is people not actively listening to each other. Engaging honestly with them and trying to understand their viewpoint. Even though I have pretty strong convictions and beliefs, I’m usually not adverse to hearing the opposing viewpoint by someone who believes it. It helps if they can articulate it well in a calm, rational manner, instead of debasing the other side.
Good Faith Dialogue
In the Big Five personality test I scored quite high in the Openness subcategory. Which is atypical of someone with conservative beliefs. And I’m higher on the Agreeableness scale as well.
All of which color my personality. And my beliefs that it would be better for everyone to talk things out, learn from each other and just agree to disagree and treat each other with courtesy and respect.
Sure I want to get people to agree with me. I know it’s probably not going to happen. So I aim for understanding and mutual respect instead.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t that way. Which is sad and quite frustrating. This results in the culture war instead of a great learning opportunity.
I don’t have to attack others in our culture war, I’ve chosen to listen, engage and learn. The other side is not going to change my mind. They might in small matters. But, good faith conversations might be a bridge to loving and befriending my enemies.
I asked a friend who canned pickles what the process was. She favors the spicy sweet pickles recipe.
Three days you boil water then let the cucumbers soak in the water for a day, (covered on the counter). The first day is just with water which softens them up to receive the flavorings to come and gives them a good cleaning.
The second day is with pickling salt which acts as a preservative and adds that saltiness to it. Then the third day is with alum which gives the pickles that crisp. Some people skip alum for various reasons. Each day you drain, (but don’t rinse), the cucumbers. Then add the new liquid to let it soak covered for a day.
This is all to prepare them for the fourth day where you boil apple cider vinegar and the spices. And you add this mixture to the drained cucumbers and let it sit for four days covered on the counter.
Then on day eight you drain it out and pack them with sugar and put them in jars. The sugar draws out even more of the vinegar leaving just the spices behind. Anyhow, you get how there are many steps to pickling spicy sweet pickles.
As sociologists and anthropologists would probably confirm that the long process of how culture shapes us is probably even more intricate and multifaceted than of a pickle recipe.
For the record, I’m neutral when it comes to the wearing of masks. I don’t have a side I’m “with”. It was just what happened that night at the school board so I shared it as an example. I have friends on both sides. I care about them and understand their views and frustrations regarding the issue.
There was a fantastic article discussing the playing out of the culture war in the online space. It was called, “The Internet of Beefs”. It’s a long read, but well-thought out. The “mooks and knights” explained the dynamics well.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on this topic. If you want to talk or connect for a good faith conversation, my social media links are on my website. Or you are welcome to leave a comment.