I was looking forward to connecting with and reestablishing some very old ties. An event had been planned that would allow me to see people I had not seen in 30 years. I excitedly planned for the trip, only to find out it had been cancelled.
Death in the family? No.
Weather issues? No.
It was cancelled because some members of our group didnt want to see other members of our group.
Why? Because of thair political views.
Never in my lifetime, have I experienced such a polarization of fervor focused on politics. Each side, in the Great Divide, passionately cries out for attention. All the while, their hands clasp over their own ears to any alternate truths.
I wont divulge my leanings, although if you have read my blog, you will surmise the answer. My purpose is not to proselytize, but to challenge.
I have watched friends draw apart; brother rise against brother and even children turn against parents…
All over politics of late.
What is going on?
My opinion of politics is that it is a chess game…with hidden rules, deals made in secret and cheating across the board. While I acknowledge that government is essential for the passage of laws, the stability of the economy and the delivery of justice, there is something more important. The people.
After all, what good is the very best government if we give up on all things we hold dear.
Digital media has offered a platform for self expression that we take advantage of every day. We now know in public what everyone used to think in secret. We have laws protecting our right to speak our mind and conscious freely. But, with that freedom comes the great responsibility to use our judgement.
It makes me cringe to see some postings of the people I care about. Just as I imagine these same dear people must cringe, at times, when I state views different from theirs. But what really concerns me is when I read the “attack” conversations in response to these stated views between family members, friends and colleagues. Feelings are hurt, resentment builds and relationships become fractured.
I am not exaggerating. I have watched it unfold over and over.
Why are we damaging relationships just for the oopportunity to drive home our particular views?
If we all just employed a few simple steps in relation to our digital communication, maybe there would not be so many fractured relationships.
Focus on the relationship…not the viewpoint. Just because someone feels strongly about a viewpoint that you dont share, the person is Not the viewpoint. There are people in my life who believe very differently from me on political issue. There are times when I find their verbal stance on their viewpoint to be troubling; even disturbing. And, I will admit, I have allowed myself to feel anger at the words. But, then I remind myself of the person. I think of why I care for them: the goodness in them, the way they make me smile or even just the ties that bind us. Only then can I shut down the negative feelings and move on.
Be willing to Listen with your third ear. Brene Brown says “move closer”. If you can listen, not just to the “what” but also to the “why” of a person’s belief, you can come to a better understanding of their viewpoint. Even if you still disagree 100% , understanding where people develope their beliefs can dissipate some of the negative feelings associated wwith them.
If you cannot listen, dont talk. Dont bring up your differences when you are with someone who has a different viewpoint if you both cannot listen for uunderstanding. For your relationship, cone to an agreement that politics is off the “discussion table”. Focus on those areas in which you are similar. Build on those things.
Dont let the polarization of our current political climate affect your relationships. Focus on each other. Focus on your relationships. Let the rest of it play out on election day.