I am doing something totally inadvisable.
Writing about politics.
There is no way you can win when you support your candidate. Two fifths of the populace will arise in support: Yay, man, you are so right!
Two fifths of the population will hang you to crucify along with Jesus.
Another fifth will tell you why you’re nuts, inadvisable, or downright stupid, or they’ll yawn and deplore politics as something Neanderthal, something unworthy of debate.
You end up feeling less than whole, no matter who you support.
I ran into a friend in the coffee shop today. We talked about our crazy friends on Facebook who support so-and-so. We talked about the advisability of publicly supporting anyone. We talked about how part of us admired folks who openly declare their political candidate. We also spoke of how easy it is to shame or feel shamed. How easy it is to try to politic others into supporting our guy, our beliefs, our opinions.
We didn’t arrive at a definitive answer, but we certainly covered so many of the feelings that arise during a contentious political year, including the challenges of speaking up and the challenges of remaining (relatively) silent. How not speaking can feel as hurtful as speaking up.
What’s a person to do?
How do we declare we’re for Bernie Sanders or Hilary Clinton or you know, that guy, Trump? How do we announce our convictions without losing face, without being overthrown by some of our dearest friends? How can we STAND to read such stupid Facebook opinions about such idiotic unqualified so-and-so’s?
Because, dear reader, I am quick to admit that you and you and you and you do NOT espouse the same beliefs as me and me and me and me. Some of my very best buddies in the whole wide world have thrown their love and support and vote behind–well, I can’t even type the person’s name.
And–this is the tricky part–some of the people who support that nameless person are wonderful loving really cool human beings.
Some of my friends believe in such-and-such candidate. Others of us support the opposite. One of the things I’m starting to learn after most a lifetime is that it’s OK to disagree and still be friends. One of the people with whom I politically disagree the most is actually a real savvy delightful person. (Except when I think about what she believes politically, then my inner heart starts pitter-pattering in totally disbelief! I mean how can we come from the same planet?)
We actually talked recently about how we are coming from exactly the same place, the same feelings of discontent, the same sense of disagreement. Our difference arises in what we think will resolve the situation. She thinks one way; I think another. She’s picking one presidential candidate and I’m opting for another.
It felt good to ponder our similarities instead of just blindly defending our differences.
Yesterday one of my dearest relatives in the entire planet and I were conversing about current events. She espoused her view. I espoused mine. It suddenly started feeling–you know, that awful awkward feeling when you know you’re not agreeing and the whole world is falling apart and there’s only disagreement and confusion–when this person interjected, “Kathy, it’s OK. We don’t have to agree on everything.”
To think: it’s OK. How come we human beings haven’t really learned this? As a person, a township, a state, a nation, a world: we don’t have to agree on everything to still love one another. To still be able to embrace the Other, to hug them tight, to say–I love you, I respect you, you are a worthy human being.
(Even though I may go berserk if you mention the name of that presidential candidate and say that’s who you’re voting for…but afterward let’s go out for coffee, eh?)
How have you resolved this issue of speaking up or remaining silent, of learning to negotiate between different opinions and friendships?
P.S. I don’t really want to know how you’re casting your ballot. Just wanted to open up the subject of how we can all learn to co-exist more peacefully during fractious political times.