“Would You Rather Trump or Hillary be President?”

Would you, could you, should you?

Knowing that I didn’t care for either presidential option at election time, my son often likes to pose the following question to me,

“Now that Trump’s been president for a while, would you rather Trump or Hillary be president?”

It’s a loaded question that randomly throws at me just to get me riled up. He knows my level of disdain for Trump, and that I will never know how my differing policy opinions with Hillary would have panned out. The politics don’t even matter though, he knows the real reason my skin crawls with these questions stems from one simple word, would.

I’m not sure when exactly the word “would” transitioned from evoking feelings of everyday politeness when hearing “Would you like some more?” to the bits of fiery rage that blankets over me when hearing things like, “If you don’t agree with the wall, tell me, would you let the immigrants move in with you?” I do think the random games of “Would You Rather” my kids like to play have opened my eyes to the “why” of the word, along with should and could, irritating me so.

You see, the fun really ensues when all three kids start rapid firing questions at me, with the caveat that I must pick one. It’s the apocalypse and you have the choice of eating a rat or starving…what would you do? I try to bypass the rules, and gleefully go for nuts and wild greens. No way in hell am I going to eat a rat, and I’m confident enough in my edible plant knowledge not to starve. They won’t have this nonsense though, I’m reminded I must pick a side — the happy grey area cannot exist here, thank you!

Modern-day would, should, and could are all about the sides.

They are equally capable of posing “What if?” questions that leave us lingering in the past, or making us focus on the fear of future outcomes. I happen to be a fan of the present. I like to focus on what is, and what I can do now.

“What would happen to our constitutional rights if we make stricter gun laws?”

What can we do right now to protect the mental health of children who have become accustomed to active shooter drills?

Should men have to live in fear of being accused?”

How can I help women who are victims of sexual assault and afraid to come forward?

Could my daughter be assaulted in a bathroom if transgendered individuals are given equal bathroom rights?”

How can teach my daughters to be safe, while not causing them to live in fear, knowing they are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know?

When I see the words would, should, and could these days they seem to be synonymous with evoking irrational responses to the situation at hand. A friendly game of “Would you Rather,” transformed into a tool used to cultivate the masses into a force that would fall on their sword for their sides foothold in the future, while having no concrete concept of how to engage the now.

I get it, community and shared beliefs are are crucial for our survival as a species, but they’ve also been the cause of the collapse. The trouble with making that would, could, or should choice, and picking a side, is that you never truly know if it was the right one until all is said and done.

I want to go back to the question on immigrants, “If you don’t agree with the wall, tell me, would you let the immigrants move in with you?” It is implied that you must pick a side — keep all immigrants out or be willing to take on financial and basic human welfare of every immigrant that comes your way. The circles cannot intersect and that Venn-diagram that you loathed in school no longer exists.

Only it does. Life and how we interact it with isn’t as simple as would, should, and could questions that force you to pick one side of the scale or the other. Everything overlaps, and while the past and future should always play a part in how we make our decisions, they shouldn’t be the dominant force of the present.

As for now, the word “would” stood out to me as the one that dominated 2018 in the form of strongarmed division. I’m hoping 2019 starts to find its foothold in the grey area, focusing on changing the now with words that promote tolerance and unity. Hope is also a promise of the future though, that depends on the willingness of now.