Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On reacting

Two big items in the news yesterday, of course: the announcement of Sonia Sotomayor as President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, and the announcement of the California Supreme Court that Prop 8 would stand.

In both situations, it seems to me that the first reaction was simply that: reaction. But now after a day, a lot of people are settling down to respond rather than react.

The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe has an article entitled Reconsidering the initial response to the Prop 8 ruling. And the Times has an editorial from a conservative law professor who served as an intern with Sonia Sotomayor. And this, of course, is not even the tiniest tippiest tip of the iceberg of all of the virtual ink spilt on these two issues. But they both have the characteristic, it seems to me, of moving from reaction to response.

Reaction is an interesting thing. It seems to be instant and involuntary and yet, in both these cases, the "action" to which people are reacting is more or less anticipated, making the reaction seem a bit scripted.

The thing I hope is that we don't get stuck in our reactions. As Gerald Magliocca said in the Times column I mentioned above, "It is perfectly understandable for conservatives to say that they will not vote for anyone the president picks, but at that point the debate, if you can call it that, is over."

The Supreme Court's decision went on for 140 pages; that's a lot to digest and to consider. It's a lot more than a postcard that says NO. What's more it gives a lot of grist to consider what to do next. Reacting gives power to the actor; responding allows us to move ahead.

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