Both Sides Now

 “I´ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It´s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.”

From the iconic song by Joni Mitchell

My sister Cari is the youngest of five: I am the only “boy” in this branch of the Garriga clan. Our mother was fairly “old” when she became pregnant with Cari, yet she always insisted that Cari was not a “mistake.” A wanted child born into a large extended family. Four older siblings; eleven aunts or uncles, all of whom were married. Numerous cousins and many neighbors who did not need to knock on the front door to let themselves in.

A “can’t miss” shot from the day she was born. She did not let us, or the world, down. She was an outstanding student, loved and cherished by her teachers and classmates. She studied at the Sorbonne and became an authority in her field. She has excelled as a college professor and administrator.

Many years ago, Cari called me. There was this young man she had met, and she wanted me to get to know him. A form of vetting, because I am almost old enough to be her father, and our relationship had always been both fraternal and paternal. There had been other young men, and she had never asked for my opinion. This one was for real.

They came to Saint Louis to stay with us. His name was Todd McMurtry. He was an attorney. Tall; bright; very handsome. Quite sociable; also popular with his peers. We had a great few days together. The crowning moment was the night that we talked Todd into singing Hall and Oates’s “Kiss on my List” to Cari. We recorded him, and we have kept that tape (now in digital format) in case that we ever need to blackmail him.

They have done very well. Cari has reached the top of her career, and Todd has gained a national reputation as a defender of people who have been wronged by the media. They have three kids: we would be proud to claim all of them as ours. There is a pair of adorable twins in Dallas: the grandchildren in charge of carrying on with their names and their genes.

Recently, Todd ran for Congress. At first, this presented a problem for me. As all of you know, I have strongly liberal political opinions. Todd has worked for the RNC in the past, and he was running as a conservative, a strong one at that. I felt a strong bond with Cari and Todd, but I felt uncomfortable backing their cause.

I went back and forth for a few weeks. Which means that I tried to pretend that this conflict would go away by itself. One day, out of the blue, I received an inspiration.

Is ideology more important than people?

I can unequivocally state that there is no one in politics that can match Todd in terms of kindness, patience, respect for the rule of law, and desire for the common good. I contributed to his campaign.

All Americans face a similar choice today. Are we willing to give a decent individual a chance? Is the media spin more important than the end result?

All of us can agree: We need better-paying jobs. Better schools. Better public health. Find a way to mitigate the relentless natural disasters that keep us in a constant state of alert. We MUST be able to leave our homes with 100% certainty that we will be safe.

I am asking for all of us to look at both sides now. From up and down, win or lose. To listen. To wait and see what the proposals are. To understand that, to quote another song, you can’t always get what you want.

Today I want to reach out across thousands of miles of land and ocean to hug and kiss Todd and Cari, even if it goes against the Covid guidelines. I will always love you. We are literally on opposite sides, geographically and politically. I know that we will figure it out.

To look at life from both sides now.

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