In Defense of the People We No Longer Speak to
Is our politics worth losing the people that matter most?
Are we still mad at Trump? I guess the better question is “Are we still mad at the people who liked him?”
This week, I got an email blast from some Facebook guru who got into my email list because of a quiz that asked “What is Your Creative Spirit Animal?” I confess, as a Millennial, I’m a sucker for a good (or even bad) personality quiz, but I digress.
The subject of said email was “TEA TALK: The NO A**HOLE RULE.” The letters were not omitted and we all know the missing letters were not “R” and “T.” The opening line of this email read
“My dad voted for Trump so I chose not to speak to him, but I still love him and pray for him […]”
This email came to me on Thursday, February 19th, a full 30 days after the Inauguration Day.
Right… So it still counts as love to refuse to even speak to those who raised us and cause untold heartache solely based on who they voted for. Am I the only one who finds this a tad self-contradictory?
Don’t get me wrong, as a person, I find Trump distasteful. Furthermore his grammar and oratory skills seem to be stuck in 8th grade. But while I’m at it, the entirety of both the Democratic and Republican politicians can also, respectively, suck it. In my own humble opinion.
But can I go so far as to eliminate my friends and family from my life?
I have two dear friends, one from Arkansas, one from Washington D.C. and they both now reside in Tennessee. Three guesses as to who leans on which political side. My Arkansas friend actually adores Trump. She finds his jokes hilarious. She views his lack of concern for how offensive his words are to be refreshingly honest. She is the kind of person who finds him so delightful that she would invite him over for tea and biscuits (erm- Diet Coke and Big Macs) if she could.
She is also the crazy white aunt to her black neighbor’s grandson, and has shown Baby T. more love and affection than some of her own family members. She brought me food and toilet paper (toilet paper!) when I didn’t take the pandemic seriously until I realized 2 days before the shutdown that it was, indeed, serious. She was the one who brought me boxes to pack up for my divorce and had me over for Thanksgiving when I had nowhere else to go. She is Pro- Guns, Pro-Choice (with an impressive healing crystal collection) and she has been there for me as a friend and an unwavering business partner for the past 3 years. Despite our differences, our friendship has never been called into question throughout this never-ending election and inauguration season.
My other friend is about as liberal as it gets. She rescues dogs, and recycles. One of her family members is an avid lobbyist. She truly believes that if the government was allowed to take a bigger hand in the redistribution of wealth, the United States could finally be back on the road to peace and unity. She is a bleeding heart do-gooder and a die-hard feminist who lives in the artsy part of town. I will admit, she never misses a chance to discuss why the world would be better if the old white men running the country were phased out and replaced by young, diverse (and she wouldn’t mind more Democratic) leaders with vision.
I might add, that yes, she is employed. In fact, she makes a comfortable 6 figures and has told me several times that she would be happy if the government took a larger portion to give to programs in need. She talked me through an entire hellishly narcissistic marriage while I sobbed uncontrollably, and was the first one to take me out for drinks when it was over. She is my Friday night partner in wine. She has never said a word of judgement against me for my relatively more conservative leanings. Even though I am so moderate that I border on total political apathy, we have never had anything but positive political conversations. She also refused to jump in on the riots and looting sprees masquerading as “protests” last Summer. Because destruction was not the point.
I can honestly say I love them both.
To broaden the spectrum, I am an esthetician during the day. I see dozens of clients every week from all political viewpoints. Many of whom have been loyal clients since before 2016 when the circus first came to town. I have known these clients since before it became the trend to talk politics in public and cancel anyone who disagrees. These are good people. And they remained good people even in 2020. They’ve had families, hardships, laughter, and fears just like the client after them who has a totally opposing political perspective. These clients never stopped being people simply because they chose a side. And I can tell you with 100% honesty…
Not one of them wants to see their country burn itself to the ground.
My point is, just because the past 4 years have been so polarizing politically, does that mean the past decades of our friends and family’s love meant nothing? If the Right Wing claims to stand for traditional and religious moral values, while the Left Wing claims to stand for equal love and respect, where is the fine print that says “Loving fellow humans not valid on weekends or towards others of a different opinion.”?
Oh sure, both will argue that anyone on “the other side” has revealed their hidden values and thus, has proven themselves to be amoral, hypocritical conspiracy theorists with intentions of driving this nation straight to Hell with no bathroom breaks. The more civilized version of this explanation is “I have chosen not to speak to that person because I can’t bring myself to be connected with anyone who supports [Insert ideology here]”
But is that true? Have those who have shown us love and kindness in the past suddenly become monsters? Or is it possible that they are still the same humans we once loved…
And could still love before we lose them for good?