Almost everything that pokes at me and sends me out of my comfort zone these days originates from Facebook. I think this window we’ve created for ourselves into the lives of people we know, but don’t really know forces us pull our heads out of the sand and admit that there are all kinds of other viewpoints out there. If we can’t embrace each others’ differences, we at least have to learn to accept them because they exist and denying the existence doesn’t change that fact.
For me the button that is most often pressed is the one in charge of my politics. I know that I am not the only one that could admit this. Today a friend posted something that was so very true, yet left me feeling a mixture of angry, sad, and fearful. I’ll try to paraphrase what she said:
Do you ever notice how when you find out someone’s political beliefs your opinion of them instantly changes and you no longer feel the same about them? It’s interesting that that happens.
Reading that made me sad because, after two years of being her Facebook friend, I know her political views and they are not the same as mine. It was a reminder that the instant I am open about being liberal there are people who will think less of me and perhaps even write me off. The comment made me angry because it means that all the respect and love that brings us to a relationship in the first place can be torn apart in one moment of categorizing ourselves. Finally it made me fearful because, like I said before, it was a very true (for probably most people) statement.
I’ve been in both situations before. I’ve been in the place where you’re hanging out with a new friend, you like them and see the potential for a great relationship and then the subject of politics come up. They say something that lets you know their on your team and suddenly you feel those warm fuzzies. In your mind you’re running through a field of daisies with some sweet song playing. In one instant an alliance has been made, and yes, you like this person more than you did the moment before. I’ve also been in the moment where the new friend expresses a political opinion opposite yours and the sound of a record scratch resonates in your head. How could this be? She/He can’t possibly be one of them! And just like that, you’re not so sure you could ever find common ground with this right-wing/left-wing crazy (gotta love how our ego exaggerates)!
If there is something I want to transform about myself it is this reaction. I want to see myself have these snap judgments and be able to take a time-out to pray for God to heal my thoughts and help me see what’s real. In reality we all just want the same basic things. We want to feel safe and loved. It doesn’t matter what your political party affiliation is. The negative reactions about our differences come from fear and that fear is used so well in politics to divide us, even from those we respect and love.
More and more these days I am finding friends on the other side of the fence whom I have so much in common with. I am better for having them in my life and hope that in the future my political allegiances never keep me from connecting with people like these smart and loving ones I already know!
*A note to my FB friend if she is reading*
I hope I didn’t offend you by paraphrasing you here. Thank you for inspiring me to look within at my own reactions.