So easy any human COULD do it

“For a while
If you don’t mind,
Let me be myself
So I can shine
With my own light.
Let me be myself.”
“Let Me Be Myself” — 3 Doors Down

Many will know this 3 Doors Down ballad because of a Geico advertisement.

The song’s video is centered around the Geico caveman, and the song was featured in a Geico ad, though the end of the song’s video contrasts with the commercial, which ends with the caveman frustrated to see a Geico banner that reads, “So easy a caveman can do it.”

While the song is thought of with some humor because of its association with the television ad, the lyrics have a very serious message from someone who is struggling to find identity and self-confidence in being who they truly are.

We’re seeing plenty of that in the world today - struggles between claims and actions that leave many people’s true identity in question.

Last week, in his column, Curt identified the contrast between the stated motives of the House members presenting a debt ceiling negotiation plan.

While stating that they want to reduce spending, those same congressional members are also placing tens of millions of dollars into the bill they are proposing that is earmarked as special project spending for their individual districts.

When discussing negotiating on the bill this week, Rep. Matt Gaetz said the quiet part out loud when he quipped, “[We] don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.”

That’s exactly it.

Rather than negotiating in good faith with a view that the other side has something to contribute to the conversation, this is the view in negotiations - and it’s both sides that act in this manner, lest anyone believe the entirety of the issue is on the GOP - to reduce the value of the person on the other side to subhuman, or at least below yourself in human worthiness.

We all have an innate desire to feel valued in the world, and when coming to a point of compromise and negotiation, recognizing the engrained value of the person across the table often makes for a calmer, more open final product where both sides feel as if they received something.

My daughter recently earned a household reward by doing chores consistently. I congratulated her the next morning as we were all working through our morning routines before heading to school. After her sisters were dropped off and it was just her and I in the vehicle, she piped up.

“Thank you for congratulating me, daddy,” she said. “I am really proud of myself.”

For a young woman who has really struggled with her self-confidence and her self-worth as she works through her pre-pubescent years, that final statement was absolutely huge.

However, I tend to focus on the first part. I congratulated her on achieving something.

Something that she has worked hard to achieve, but absolutely something that she earned and doesn’t need my validation to know that she accomplished something.

Yet, hearing that congratulations was notable enough to have her say thank you - not a common phrase unprompted, mind you!

Each of us yearns to be seen as an equal, as having a claim to a place at the table that is just as valuable as anyone else around the table.

That’s why the argument to debase certain people because of who they are is so confusing.

Three times in the last year, Governor Kristi Noem’s office has had a message attacking the rights of some portion of LGBTQ people to simply exist - and then within 10 days put out a statement about changing all the pronouns in the state constitution.

Wait, pronouns?! Aren’t those evil things that the “woke crowd” wants us to buy into?

Yet, the pronouns in the state constitution were such a concern for the newly re-elected governor last fall that she spent multiple lines of her State of the State address calling for change to the constitution where it referenced the governor’s office with a male pronoun.

So, having her identity validated and recognized is important. Important enough to send a press release on the day that the bill to make the changes was introduced to the legislature this past session and another press release (and a weekly column) when she eventually signed the bill.

But the common decency to even recognize and value the existence of someone with different beliefs? Nope.

And it’s not just Gov. Noem and it’s not just LGBTQ.

South Dakota’s Republican Senators actually impressed recently when they both went against the presumed “face” of their party and endorsed colleague Tim Scott of South Carolina for the 2024 Republican candidate for President - over former President Donald Trump, among others.

This won’t be a very popular decision in this state at all, but especially because of one particular identity that Scott holds - he’s Black.

When discussing with political pollsters and researchers the President who held office before the 2016 election, many of the most ardent Trump supporters - which have a very notable base within this state - referenced his racial identity as part of his name.

Political scholars have utilized exit polling from the 2016 election to determine that backlash against Barack Obama’s racial identity strongly influenced voters in their voting. Now, South Dakota’s Senators are backing Tim Scott - in fact, Mike Rounds was the first public endorsement for Scott from a sitting Republican member of Congress.

I would love an honest campaign where Tim Scott’s ideas, values, and plans for the nation are the focus of his advertisements and his opponents’ words against him. I have a bad feeling that it won’t be, however.

It’s really not that hard. To go back to something that we certainly all heard as children, “Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself.”

It’s so easy, yet basic human decency in the public sphere seems in short supply.

I wonder if the cavemen had the same problem…