Overview:

To avoid divorce, Red and Blue America visit a couple's counselor who tells Red to relent and live in a Blue world.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Red and Blue America, locked in a troubled marriage for some time, finally agreed to see a couple’s counselor, and here’s the transcript of their first session:

Counselor: Welcome in, Red and Blue! Aren’t you a cute couple! Please, speak freely and tell me the nature of your marital riff.

Red: If I may go first. My mate has a view to the future while I have consideration for the past. I’m traditional, conservative. I dislike unnecessary and trendy innovations. My spouse, Blue, is a liberal and is much too quick to embrace novelty. This is a constant irritant to our marriage.

Blue: I agree that this is a pesky and persistent annoyance for us. Call it a philosophical difference. And there are other pragmatic issues that animate our spats. All kinds of topics, like guns and smokestacks and personal liberties.

Red: Can you help us, doc? We’ve been together so long and we’d like to save this marriage.

Counselor:  You’re saying divorce is not an option for you?

Red & Blue:  No. We want to stay together, if only for the children.

Counselor: The way I see it, both of you seek to impose your values on the other and both of you resist. So, what if, for the sake of a peaceable household, one of you relents and agrees to live serenely with the other side’s preferred agenda?

Red: Which one of us should relent, doc?

Counselor: I’m afraid it must be you, Red. It will be much easier for you to live in a Blue household than Blue to live in a Red household.

Red:  Say what?

Counselor: The freedoms allowed in a Blue household would extend to you and your kids, Red, as soon as you or they need them. For instance, abortion, gay rights, gay marriage, trans rights, disability rights, clean air rights, voting rights, and the freedom from racism and coercive religiosity in public schools. Red, you would retain the right to worship as your conscience allows, of course. But Red, you would incur some restrictions on military-style weapons you could own. And Red, you would not be able to conceal and carry guns in public.

Blue:  What of Red’s dread of government regulations on businesses?

Counselor: I suggest you use the more benign and accurate term ‘government protections.’ We all know big businesses can with impunity overstep morality and injure households from time to time, and therefore we need powerful protections from big businesses, which often do not adequately police themselves.

Blue: But maybe we don’t need so many protections, Red? We can discuss this. There will always be a few things Red and I quarrel about, like taxes, but we’d have to work these things through.

Red: All of this is a lot to ask of me, doc.

Counselor:  I know. But the sum total of concessions made by you to a Blue household would not be much of a hardship for you Red, especially when you think of it as something you’ll endure for the greater good of your family.

The way I see it, both of you seek to impose your values on the other and both of you resist. So, what if, for the sake of a peaceable household, one of you relents and agrees to live serenely with the other side’s preferred agenda?

Couple’s counselor

Blue: What if I made the concession to live with Red’s chosen household arrangements, doc?

Counselor: You have to consider the mischief done to you Blue if you live in a wholly Red household. Not only might all the above freedoms and rights be curtailed or eliminated, but Red’s attitude of caution against innovation might arrest the very development of ideas for you—in art, literature, music, theater, technology, and industry. Thinkers and inventors in all genres are often odd people, and odd people need ample ideational elbow room.

Blue:  I never thought of it that way.

Red:  I fully understand Red and Blue impulses. Both are authentic expressions of human attitudes toward the ordering of human life. One may be termed traditional and the other one historical, by which I mean accepting the inevitable ‘march of history’. One position looks to the past for wisdom, and one looks for wisdom in the present and the future. Both positions have positives and both have negatives. Both are imperfect.

Blue: And, it must be admitted, both of us share similar values, too. We both appreciate the importance of family, friendship, the rearing of children, play, humor, and skillful performance. And we both accept moral injunctions that seek to protect those values: Love family, treasure friends, protect children, have fun, and become good at something.

Counselor: That’s a wise observation, Blue.

Red: I’m all in. Something needs to happen short of a Blue-Red divorce. Blue and I have been equally headstrong in our opposition for a very long time, and that’s getting us nowhere. And so, instead of making a mutiny of our differences, I will concede to live under Blue’s order of things.

Blue: I’m stunned at what I’m hearing.

Red: Call me the tougher and stouter of the two of us. Call me virtuous. Call me a peacemaker. Count me among those who’ll make a more perfect union. I can do this, and I can temper the tenor of our disagreements for the sake of our kids and grandkids.

Blue: I’m so proud of you at this moment, Red.

Counselor: I’m proud of both of you. Time is up. Shall we schedule a second visit—just in case we need to tinker with this new experiment in amity?

J. H. McKenna (Ph.D.) has taught the history of religion since 1999 at the University of California, where he has won teaching awards. He has published in academic journals and the LA Times, Huffington...