I recently came across an article I wrote during the 2008 election. At that time, I was a conservative, Christian, homeschool mom who was excited that a “woman like me” might have a chance at the White House. The article addressed the disappointment I felt attending a party where talk centered around bashing Sarah Palin and her supporters.
Since that time, my lifestyle has drastically changed, and so have my political and religious points of view. But you know what hasn’t changed? My core values of kindness and respect.
Eleven years later, I still remember the disdain some of those party-goers showed for me. Not directly, but indirectly by their comments about people who were “stupid enough” to vote for McCain/Palin. Many derogatory terms were flying around, and I wondered if they knew they were talking about ME!
Even though I am now on the other side of the political fence, I am still disheartened by the lack of respect I see between political parties. It disgusts me. It makes me angry. It grieves my heart. The world is so much bigger than our little American political arena. If you don’t agree with someone else’s point of view, that is ok. What is not ok is marking them off, belittling their intelligence, saying they are not trustworthy, etc. based solely on their voting record.
Some of my most valuable relationships are with people who vote differently than me. My father is the single most respected person in my life. No ballot he casts will ever change that.
Not all of my children vote like I do, but they all respectfully allow for the fact that my journey (for lack of a better word) is mine. They recognize that wherever I am on life’s path is exactly where I am supposed to be at that moment, and I vote with the knowledge and understanding I have at that time.
A year-and-a-half ago, I discovered a man I was involved with was a “Trump supporter.” I was angry at first. But when I looked at the whole person...the actual human being standing in front of me...I realized that just like mine, his journey was his own to experience. The friendship and intimacy we shared was far more important to me than anything else. And I had to remember that four years prior, I would have been on the same political page.
As a wise friend stated, “All people have history, family of origin teachings, wounds, and baggage that form how they see the world, and it influences their vote. That doesn’t make that person untrustworthy or unloving. It’s just how they see the world at the time. By not getting to know people, and caring about them and how they think, how could you ever hope to speak about things that matter, or have healthy discussions that just might make the other person think…or cause yourself to think.”
My current relationship is also with someone who does not share my political POV. It mattered for about the first month, and then I actually got to know him. We are both talkers and thinkers, and we find ourselves deep in conversation each and every day. But politics has fallen to about thirtieth on the list of things we talk about. Know why?
There are many more interesting and valuable things to discuss.
Presidents are quickly relegated to history, but people will always be valuable. Don’t lose out on the opportunity for a meaningful connection with another human being simply because their life experiences have led them to a different understanding of the world. I’ve come to dislike the word “tolerance.” I think we should do much more than tolerate people. I think we should love them.