The Longer I’m in Recovery, The More I Avoid Conflict from Differing Opinions

Over the years, my wife has pointed out to me that I tend to speak of the Boston Red Sox in terms of “we” as in “We just may have made the greatest mistake in trading away Mookie Betts since we let Babe Ruth go to the Yankees.” My wife is the first to point out to me that it’s a situation of “they” not “we.” I was not consulted on the Betts trade and aside from the large tattoo on my calf and numerous articles of clothing, I don’t actually contribute anything to the Red Sox.

I laugh about this because I don’t think this is one thing I’ll ever be able to change. It doesn’t matter exact players, I feel like I have a connection to the Red Sox and understand when people feel the same way about their teams. But here’s the thing, I think even the most diehard fan understands that it’s all harmless fun. Well, maybe not some groups of European soccer fans, but for the most part, here in North America, I believe we large have our sports fanaticism in check.

If you ever get DirecTV, the remote controls stink. Just when you think it’s the batteries, it turns out you have to reboot the system because a gremlin got into it. This is how I ended up on a Fox News program this morning. If I understand it correctly, they were talking about the fact that another cable news network show had said Michael Bloomberg was as bad in his debate the other night as Donald Trump was in 2016. So simply by repeating this, and actually show stats that proved it to be true, Fox News got the ire of Donald Trump. But a different Fox talking head was appearing to defend the first talking head for having stats to back up what a talking head said on a different channel about a comparison to something that happened four years ago that in the end, had no bearing, because Trump won.

This was the moment that I got up out the chair, went to the back of the TV, and turned the damn thing off. It was also the moment that I realized something else. Over the last two years, I’ve not been to a Boston Red Sox game (about a two-hour drive from where I live) nor had I watched more than a couple of game on television.

I used to be a politics junkie. I loved the game, especially when I was covering it for various newspapers I worked for. I’ll admit that for years, I didn’t vote because I didn’t want to have to pick a side. I was trying to be impartial back when that was still the norm. Unfortunately, in a splintered information world, there’s more money to be made preaching to the choir than informing them of things they don’t want to hear.

Early in recovery, I stopped really following the news. I still see headlines and can’t avoid what’s going on entirely, especially if I tune in to see the weather report, but I work my hardest not to pick sides now because the news is really just one person’s interpretation of something that happened. Most news today isn’t even that. It’s one person’s interpretation of another person’s interpretation of something that happened. Those nighttime news commentary shows, whether it’s Sean Hannity, Don Lemon or Rachel Maddow are entertainment, not news. It’s like Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight for people who follow pop culture news. And, it’s also like the pre-game and post-game shows for actual Red Sox games. It’s just talk, talk, talk.

Over the last few months, I think I’ve recognized early recovery is over. I’m in a new phase. Maybe it’s intermediate recovery. The thing that is bother me most is that I find I’m getting a bit testy toward people who can’t divorce their personal opinions and beliefs as being correct facts from other people with different personal opinions and beliefs as being incorrect facts.

Guess what? There is no correct religion. There is also no incorrect religion. Not have a religion isn’t even right or wrong. The fervent believers of any religion believe that they have the correct set of answers to this and the next life. By believing that, they believe that someone just as devout who worships in a different building is wrong. In essence…they picked the wrong team.

Guess what? There is no correct political party. There is also no incorrect political party. And there’s nothing wrong with removing yourself from politics. Democrats are arguing for things Republicans argued for 40 years ago and vice versa. It’s not about the rhetoric…it’s part of making sure you’re picking the right team.

Intermediate recovery has shown me that in this life, there really are no teams. There’s just all of us, and clinging to a belief that your team is better than the other team is more a function of your own inadequacies and fears than whatever the other side is saying or doing. As humans, we have an inner need not only as individuals to be unique and special, but also to identify with others who share our beliefs about what make us unique and special.

I don’t care if you love the Yankees. It’s your belief I’m less of a person because I like the Red Sox that bothers me. I don’t care when my liberal friends say I’m too conservative or my conservative friends say I’m too liberal. If they think the political beliefs – that I mainly keep to myself at all times – make me a bad person, they’re the one with the problem. If somebody thinks that I’m in a position for eternal damnation because I don’t worship their version of God or the rules they adhere to for following him, they should really spend more time worrying about their bad habit of passing judgment on others.

Maybe intermediate recovery is very isolating. Maybe it’s about becoming a curmudgeon. Maybe it’s about cutting myself off from what other people think. Maybe it’s about recognizing I can’t control the world – and as a guy whose control issues defined him and caused the addictions – it’s better to cede all control of everything except myself.

I don’t care who you’re voting for in November. I don’t care why you like them. And most importantly, I don’t care why you don’t like the other guy.

It’s going to be a long eight months…

10 thoughts on “The Longer I’m in Recovery, The More I Avoid Conflict from Differing Opinions

  1. I’ve always been a bit puzzled by the idea of picking beliefs and values based on the team’s beliefs and values rather than going along with a team that happens to match up with my own at a given point in time.

    1. It’s like said, we want to be unique as individuals, yet want to find groups who share that uniqueness so we’re not alone. I also find the problem with locating a team I can identify with is that I don’t want to bash the other guy…and every team likes to bash the other guy these days. This happened a lot when I was a reporter, and I’m sure it would happen even more now, but when you stand outside the polls after someone votes and interview them, most of the people didn’t tell you why they liked their candidate. They told you why they didn’t like the other guy. And when you asked what specific policy they do or don’t like, they gave some kind of BS answer of “I just don’t like the decisions he makes.” I don’t know. I still think there should be some weighted voting system aside from the electoral college that reflects the knowledge, education and patriotism of individual voters. It’s never been one person = one vote when it comes to the presidential race, so if it’s not going to be that, let’s have a system where the smarter, informed people decide our fate.

      1. The electoral college system is truly bizarre. And I’m not sure that smarter and more informed would necessarily translate to better outcomes.

      2. I saw somebody who once presented a weighted vote system that made sense, like your vote was weighted 1-5 and everybody starts with 1, then you get like .5 for military service, and 1 for more than 20 years of military service. You get .25 for some college, .5 for a bachelor’s degree and 1 point for masters or higher. You get .25 for every child up to four you have under 18. There was another 20 ways to score it, but it was intriguing to me because for some people, it could encourage them to do more with their lives. Here is Maine, we’re now using a ranked choice system which is weird. Basically it favors the more moderate candidates. You vote for your first, second and third choice in that order and if no candidate gets 50%, then the one with the lowest is finished and the ballots where they were first, the election officials then look at the second choice and distribute that. If you have a big field of candidates, this can have many rounds until one gets 50%. I like the fact it favors moderates, but it seems weird that everybody’s third choice could be the ultimate winner.

      3. The same kind of proportional representation systen was suggested by the government in my province and it was put to a referendum but people voted against it.

      4. Fear of smart people and people who do something with their lives. A Nobel Prize winner should get more votes than the guy that got fired from McDonald’s for eating the fries during this shift.

  2. I love it when your wry sense of humor surfaces in your posts. If one can’t chuckle at the absurdities of the human condition every once in a while one can get pretty discouraged.

  3. I quite often feel that I’m invisible, sent here from another time or another place, and my job is just to observe because so often it feels like I”m the only one who thinks, “Why are people acting like this?”

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