“We can’t demand that people step up if we don’t meet them halfway.”
– Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Season 1, Episode 6, “One World, One People”
Yes, I have enjoyed this show, and especially Sam, quite a bit. 😉
Sam Wilson is saying these words to some of the more powerful people in the world. These are people who are trying to decide what to do in the wake of tumultuous events, and, frankly, they have not been doing a very good job. They’ve done poorly enough that a few desperate people have tried to stop them with violence, and who can blame them when they’re fighting for their lives and the lives of everyone like them? But these powerful people, the moment they’re safe, they continue on as they have been. And Sam calls them on it. He speaks simply and sincerely to the need for humans to work together to overcome these and all other tumultuous events. To that end, people can’t just dismiss each other, making demands and offering nothing in return.
There is something about that which I think people desperately need to remember these days. Sure, a lot of this speech goes towards things I don’t personally believe (it’s Disney, we disagree on a number of political matters), but the one thing that I wish people would remember is, quite simply: you just can’t ask for everything you want without giving something back.
Give a little, get a little, back and forth, together, until we meet in the middle.
The world is overrun with people who want to get everything without giving anything. They want to have happiness without building it, as needs to happen. They want to get paid without working, to lie without being called a liar, to cheat without ever being held accountable, to break the rules without facing the consequences. But most of all, most pointedly, in this instance, they want their political views to be accepted and enforced without ever listening to the other side of the argument. They just dismiss it, and entire swathes of our population, as casually as brushing aside a fly.
There inevitably follows, from this casual ignorance of another human’s perspective, a devaluation of that human as a human. They become stats on a sheet of paper, a label in a political conversation, a noise to be ignored, a stain to be cleansed and forgotten, an obstacle to be removed without compassion. There is no real working with someone who we see like that, or who sees us like that.
The frustration I have felt when people I have known for a long time completely ignore what I have to say, responding with pat-answer insults and willful ignorance of everything I say, is immense. It gets to me sometimes, and I just want to scream and break things like a poltergeist. I listen, and I listen, and I listen to them, and they do not listen to me. That is the sentiment that many, many people are feeling, because one side does nothing but make demands and refuses to listen, refuses to give any ground, refuses to work with the people on “the other side.” Completely forgetting that it’s not really about sides, it’s about finding practical solutions to urgent problems.
As humans, we can be stubborn, hard-headed creatures, with passions and prejudices aplenty all around. But we have to learn to give a little ground for each other. We have to. And the first step, the first inch, that we have to give is: “I don’t agree with you, I don’t understand your point of view, but I am willing to sit here and listen to your side anyway, because you are a human being like me, and I’m sure you have good reasons for what you believe, so, come on, let’s work together and find a way for everyone to get something out of this. Talk with me.”