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Holding Hard on to High

I told myself I'd make every attempt I could to not get political here. And maybe this is too soon for Magzland - but as I've implied before, I'm learning to go with gut reactions and not second, third, and quadruple think myself into oblivion anymore.

It gets harder every day. And over the past four years, it's been downright maddening. I "bit my tongue" (which I suppose in the age of social media - it's equivalent would be I sat on my fingers) and withheld, for the most part, on my various social media feeds, usually showing my solidarity with bolder posters, with likes and hearts and compassionate hugs and sometimes sad or angry faces. In some of my private groups I would let loose a little bit more, but even there, I've been pretty conservative in my expression. And to be clear, I use "conservative" in its purest sense, not implying any affiliation with any political party.

I still am reluctant to put too much out there with regard to politics because people, as a whole, well...we've seen where that goes, especially as of late in this country. Those that know me know where I stand, who I voted for, who I rile against. Those that don't know me well, likely have a reasonable sense of my value system based on my feeds. And then there are those that just love to stick labels on me, to neatly fold me up and fit me in their quaint compartments of politics.

I bring this up today because of the announcement of a particular pundit's death. You all know who it is (rhymes with Flush Simbaw), and I doubt there's anyone in America, who has any sense of popular and/or political culture, who doesn't have an opinion of him. I won't mark my space with his name, and I'm even cringing as I write this knowing that somehow a little bit of him is now leaking into Magzland. But nothing can be so insulated, and so we must gird ourselves against the negative influence.

I used to ride the elevator with him, many moons ago (okay, it was the early nineties), when I interned at a radio station in NYC for a summer after college. Always on the ride up, never on the ride down. It was a tall building in the middle of the city and the elevators weren't supersonic. He worked for a different station than I - mine was a pop/rock station, his talk radio. He was always polite, always friendly - a nod and a smile, eventually a hello and howareyou; nothing in that elevator ever led me to think anything negative about him. From time to time, he'd offer me a donut, that I always politely declined. I knew who he was, but I hadn't really made the connection of WHO he really was, and to be frank, it was so long ago, this was before the drug addiction, the fame addiction, the frenzy to increase and fortify his fan base. And at the same time, I wasn't so plugged in with politics yet, I was fresh out of college, wide eyed and open to all the possibilities and well, talk radio was definitely not my bag.

I've always found it hard to reconcile everything he's said and done and stood for with the guy I used to ride the elevator with. Based on all that we have on record, he was clearly a broken soul - angry at the world, for what, we'll likely never know. A while male born of privilege (and not just because he was a white male), he built an infamous brand of himself, and paved the way for many in the broadcast industry behind him. He was a juggernaut of conservative right-wing thought that became progressively more radical as he aged and he also happened be one of the best at what he did (regardless of whether you agree with his values). So what was it that he so angry about?

No one was immune to his attacks - women, minorities, the poor, even the sick. He seemed to have no boundaries, and while some may argue his vitriol was simply fuel for the ratings, it doesn't change the fact that he still willingly said so many awful, despicable things - that also allowed so many others to hear their latent gripes aloud and emboldening them to speak louder, and eventually shout, regardless of the consequences.

It takes a certain grade of self-loathing to allow oneself to be the bully of the bullies. Was he not held enough as a child? Did the ultra-conservative household he was raised in present goals he couldn't reach? Was he hiding something?

I consider myself a pretty sympathetic, not to mention empathetic person. I've seen things and lived through things that have allowed me to walk in many a shoe, and offer me a perspective on choices that while beyond the scope of thought for some, make perfect sense to others. I give a pretty wide berth to many, believing that I will always find something to connect us - always searching for the commonalities beyond just the physiological facts.

But this culture of hate - I can't do it. I can't wrap my head around it, I can't agree with it, I won't abide by it. I struggle to stay on the high side, even as I witness so many stumble, or fall or deliberately stoop down with unapologetic fanfare. I won't add to the anger, even though parts of me desperately want to. I won't judge those that do either.

You can call me a Pollyanna. You can incorrectly call me a snowflake (which I assure you, I am anything but - and that's a whole other topic of conversation), but I deeply believe it's critical that we put out into the universe what we wish to take. I will continue to meet anger and hate with humor and love. It may be met the wrong way, as some kind of tacit approval of bad behavior, and I'll admit, I'm still working on how to make sure my message isn't misread.

I'm not asking anyone to forgive this person - that's not my place, and I certainly do not. And I'm sure there are those that will lambaste me for even hinting that this marauder had a human side; that will misinterpret this as some kind of defense of him; that will get angry that I am not using his own brand of hate against him;

There are plenty of folks who will. I choose to be that one less voice of hate in the noise. I will hold desperately on to high, dangling from my fingertips.

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