Seattle is a great city. I love it. But that doesn’t mean I ignore its problems, or that it couldn’t be better. That’s the premise behind DC’s Greater Greater Washington blog–DC is a great city, but it could be greater. Recognizing that doesn’t mean you hate the place.
Our biggest problem, in my view, is that we’re stuck in the US. That can’t be fixed. But several others can. We have chronic (not intractable) housing and transportation problems. On housing, we know what to do but aren’t willing to do it. On transportation, I can only summarize our situation as mainly a big clusterfuck. Our gorgeous water and topography make transportation inherently difficult here, but we’re smart and creative, and for the most part, the fixes aren’t rocket science.
But the other blazingly obvious problem could easily be fixed with individual action. We are a passive-aggressive city. Passive-aggressiveness is immature and unhealthy. It’s not a lifestyle choice or a harmless cultural trait. It’s a pernicious, insipid, childish behavior pattern that destroys trust and relationships. So many Seattleites are utterly paranoid over the slightest conflict with any person or entity over the tiniest issue. They’d rather hide their needs or opinions, pretend something they said was a joke, take or do what they want regardless of anyone else, and worst of all–assume rather than communicate. Many adults never learn healthy communication skills because, well, our country is a shithole that can’t even keep its bridges up or first graders from being gunned down en masse. But the education and training IS available, and when you become an adult, it becomes your responsibility to learn to communicate like one.
COMMUNICATING IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BETTER THAN ASSUMING.
It’s trite but true, as I’m reminded almost daily, that good communication is crucial to the success of pretty much any relationship. Yet Seattleites prefer to cower in the fear that someone might disagree with them or be offended by their words, creating a false patina of happiness and functionality to paper over festering problems, all the while expending unnecessary energy to avoid conflict, inflating their minimum ignorance, and making themselves and those around them unnecessarily unhappy.
This must stop. We can all make our city and our lives, and those of the people we interact with, pretty quickly and easily better by renouncing passive-aggressiveness and conflict avoidance, and trying our damndest to communicate as mature adults at all times. I’ve seen it happen before, among the DC staff where I worked 2001-02, and it was marvelous. And healthy. And successful. We are all human and thus imperfect; perfectionism and “gotcha” catching aren’t the goal. I don’t mean to exempt myself; I intend this in the first person plural as something we ALL must do together. Unless we like gratuitous suffering.
Seattle, it’s time we fucking grow up. Don’t assume–communicate! Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Don’t pretend to agree when you don’t. Don’t pretend not to care about or know something when you do. Don’t pretend to be happy when you’re not. Don’t take conflicting positions just to avoid disagreement. Those are forms of dishonesty. Express yourself clearly, completely, and maturely. You’ll be amazed how much better life can be. Even when you’re stuck in traffic going home to an apartment you can’t afford in a country that can’t agree whether global warming is real.