The gospel according to Joe

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Wisdom can leak from unlikely faucets.

From Fox News and the White House to CNN and Hollywood, Americans are told what to think and whom to believe. And, yup, this section of the newspaper falls into that category of passionate persuasion with or without facts to back up the opinions. It’s every citizen’s right guaranteed by the First Amendment to say what he or she thinks or believes, even when it’s expressed as irrefutable fact, even when the collective impact is dividing our country to the point where disagreement and hatred look an awful lot like the same thing.

But every once in awhile, you hear or read something that smacks of the sweet taste of a forgotten treat. Logic. Hope. Togetherness. You have to be ready for it all the time, because it can come from anywhere.

What would you think if the 64-year-old guy sitting across from you over a cup of coffee adjusted his cap, scratched at his beard and said, “I think intolerance can be beaten down by good deeds, I really do. Most of the time the folks who are (against us) don’t want to take the time to understand what’s going on. They’re basing their views possibly on how they were raised or what they were told 40-50 years ago.

“Think for yourself. Have an original thought… I challenge you to get off your porch, get out of your basement, stop watching your TV and formulate your own opinions.”

Whoa, you might say. Where’s this coming from?

“It’s like what our country needs right now,” the grizzled, bespectacled guy says. “You’ve got to meet in the middle at some point. You might have to understand the other side…”

And then:

“…When you disagree with somebody, it seems, that person is automatically supposed to become your enemy. And I could not disagree more vehemently about that. When someone disagrees with you, (the reaction should be) maybe I’m missing something here. Or try to compromise and have them see partly what you’re talking about. The method we’re employing right now is so unfamiliar to me.”

No, Joe Maddon, manager of the Chicago Cubs, is not running for office. In fact, the quotes here are lifted from a couple of conversations the Cubs’ skipper had with Chicago Tribune writer Teddy Greenstein about subjects ranging from Maddon’s work with a youth charity and a disagreement he had with ESPN analyst Alex Rodriguez.

The wise words came from a celebrity, true, but they could just as well have come from any other Joe.

Would you have been willing to listen?

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