Must it all be either less or more?
Either plain or grand?
Is it always "or?"
Is it never "and?"
These lyrics come from one of my all-time favorite musicals, Into the Woods. The situation in which they're sung - a baker's wife prancing about the woods and contemplating the meaning of life following a spontaneous romantic interlude with a prince - bears little resemblance to the one in which I find myself - an engineering professor's wife sitting behind her computer screen and contemplating the meaning of life following a weekend of watching a multitude of debates play out in the streets and on social media - but the message works in both cases. Is it always "or?" Is it never "and?"
It is possible to be gay and Christian.
It's also possible to believe in God and science.
It is possible to be pro-choice and anti-abortion.
It is equally possible to be a feminist and love and respect men.
It's possible to have privilege and be discriminated against, to be poor and have a rich life, to not have a job and still have money.
It is possible to believe in sensible gun control legislation and still believe in one's right to defend one's self, family, and property.
It's possible to be anti-war and pro-military.
It is possible to love thy neighbor and despise his actions.
It is possible to advocate Black Lives Matter and still be pro-police.
It is possible to not have an education and be brilliant.
It is possible to be Muslim and also suffer at the hands of terrorists.
It is possible to be a non-American fighting for the American dream.
It is possible to be different and the same.
We are all walking contradictions of what "normal" looks like. Let humanity and love win.
Many people - myself included - have struggled with some of these assessments, both/either within themselves and/or when they see them occur in others. I am inclined to support the author's claim that we are "walking contradictions of what 'normal' looks like". I imagine she would apply that description to the baker's wife prancing about the woods, the engineering professor's wife sitting behind her computer screen, and nearly everyone in between. I imagine she would embrace - not just tolerate - these contradictions because they allow us to maintain our beliefs while simultaneously looking for common ground on which to build solutions. I imagine she would agree that it is almost never "or" and almost always "and".