“But there is a good chance that we will all keep bashing each other anyway.” ~ Van Jones, Beyond the Messy Truth
Let the media and political pundits divide.
Let truth and love unite.
Yes, but those MFs and idiots on the other side!
Admit it. That kind of thinking is part of the problem and it’s pervasive in our society, even in some families and friendships.
Ouch. Own it. Who do you disagree with?
If you’re Republican, it’s the damn Democrats—the Libs.
If you’re a Democrat, it’s the Trump rats.
If you’re apolitical, it’s all that noise.
Now, who do you disagree with and also love and respect in other aspects?
Let’s meet there—in the love in our hearts, even when we disagree. Quiet your mind and the proving of things you know.
Take a different approach.
Why the hell would you, when they are so clearly wrong and won’t listen?!
None of us wants to be told how to think or that we’re wrong or stupid.
We want to be right!
Yes, but underneath that we each want to be seen, heard, and respected.
It’s not easy to give what we want to receive.
Recently, I went to lunch with a gal I used to babysit, who’s now a completely legit grown-up with kids of her own. She’s also a Trumper.
Full disclosure, I’m a Democrat. In my soul. Please don’t hate me. Or, even if you do, read on and see how I learned to listen to a Trumper I’ll call Marie.
I babysat her when I was in high school and later, in college, I lived with and helped her family during a crisis. Marie’s mom is my friend, mostly out of loyalty because she saved my big sister’s self-esteem and confidence at a critical juncture as a teenager.
So, off to lunch I go with Marie, a gal I only kinda-sorta know, no longer the little girl I babysat, but the woman I’d later learn hesitated meeting me because we so disagree politically.
I get it. Sometimes it’s easier to keep our distance, not engage in conversation, and resist confrontation.
One of my favorite words is juxtaposition. That’s where Marie and I met for lunch.
Sitting in my Prius before I went in, I prayed for a hand on my shoulder and one over my mouth.
I took a minute to remember Marie’s innocence, and how I let her, as a young girl, ride (and crash) on my brother’s skateboard, back when I babysat for fudgesicles and money to afford Outward Bound.
I was once 15 and Marie was once lost in the shuffle. In those days, Marie had a sister and I had a brother.
In between then and now, we’ve each held a thousand broken pieces.
And we’ve risen, as women do.
So, from that place, I listened when she said bad things about Obama and raved about Trump’s greatness, while stating the fact of his lack of character.
I breathed deep and it seemed so did she.
We had an adult conversation where we found common ground without either of us turning the other one around.
In those moments that went political, it felt like work, but worth it.
Not because I won. Not because she convinced me.
Because I listened with my heart. Although, trust me, my brain and ego wanted to take that girl on!
I turned them off. I trusted I’d be given the words to say and the ability to keep my mouth closed without resentment.
The rest of our lunch, we discussed her new job and my writing career.
I learned she didn’t remember my brother Bill, who died at age 27.
I assured her, I think, without ideal words, I understand what she’s missing in a sister. I have mine and I can’t imagine having lost her when I was little, like Marie was when her sister had a life-altering car accident that crashed their family and forever shattered the solid foundation Marie had previously been raised on.
I feel compassion, not pity, for her.
I love the woman she’s become.
Both of us earned our living in sales for decades and came close to selling our souls. But we didn’t. Deep down we value our lives and ourselves.
From that place, as women (and men), we can honor one another. Unity starts in the heart.
Sometimes it’s hardest to go there, to the space of juxtaposition with loved ones, the people we otherwise like or love, but don’t want to dance with in the political divide.
Be brave. Be an adult. Refuse to engage in rhetoric and bullsh*t. Be willing to lean in for meaningful conversation. Remember: everyone has reasons for their beliefs.
If we listen to each other we may not agree, but we can build a bridge of mutual respect. These days, we could use some new bridges.