I am sure that most of you have seen The Wizard of Oz. If you haven’t, then you need to consider giving up any claim to being a participant in cinematic popular culture. (Of course, this is coming from the woman who has never seen The Godfather, Rocky, or a single episode of The Simpsons in its entirety.) Dorothy leaves the black and white world of her uncle’s farm in Kansas and lands in a place that filled with bright and stunning colors. Yes, Dorothy’s trip is an involuntary one, as there are not many people who will raise their hands when asked if they would like to be shot airborne by wind circulating at very high speeds. Once she gets to her destination, however, Dorothy’s eyes are opened to new perspectives, new people, and a greater appreciation for the values and the relationships she had in the first place.
What happened to Judy Garland after filming for The Wizard of Oz ended? She spent the rest of her abbreviated life in a drug and alcohol-induced haze. Why? I think she was trying to see all of those pretty colors again, because the world is so much more interesting that way.
Unfortunately, there are too many people who choose to live the way that Dorothy did before her home was uprooted by that twister. Everything in their world is black and white. There is a right and there is a wrong. Their way is the only way that matters, and please don’t challenge them on that.
I want to live in a world with countless colors, with people who have different opinions than me, who have reached those opinions with thought and consideration, and who want to have reasoned discussions about the issues that matter to all of us. I want to know people who aren’t afraid to say, “I’m willing to give that perspective some thought” and “Thank you for giving me something to think about” and “I still don’t agree with your opinion, but I enjoyed talking with you.” I also want to be that type of person.
I am not saying that we should discard the absolute values and morals by which we live. Not at all. I have certain beliefs in which I hold firm. That being said, I love having conversations with people who feel very differently than I do. In many instances, I come to find an even stronger sense of who I am and what I hold true after such talks. Dorothy had to melt a witch and get apples thrown at her head before she could say, “There’s no place like home.”
So, instead of screaming at people who disagree with you, or sticking your fingers in your ears and refusing to listen, or stomping on someone’s head at a campaign rally because she doesn’t like your candidate, or using the kneejerk accusation of racism when someone doesn’t agree with your policies (there’s some black and white for you), or labeling someone as a fascist or a socialist or a Nazi or a communist or a teabagger because they subscribe to a different political ideology, or assuming a person wants to blow up an airplane and make you wear a burka because he prays to the East five times a day, or assuming a person is a homophobe and a simpleton and a person filled with judgment because she claims Jesus Christ as her Savior, or only reading articles and books and blogs written by people who agree with you, or keeping your kids sheltered from people and circumstances that will challenge them, or defaulting to words like “always” and “never,” or making fun of others simply to mask your own insecurities and doubt in your own position . . . how about we open ourselves up to all possibilities.
If, after our great travel to the land of heartless men of tin and mind-altering flowers and small people who dance while holding ginormous lollipops, we decide that our ideas were always correct and there really is “no place like home,” then I think we’ll just be better for it.