I have written in the past about perspective. Perspective is subjective to your experience, attitudes, atmosphere, and education. Life is all about perspective. I have observed how perspective can be different even in close knit families. What one sibling finds hurtful and damaging, another sibling may view as educational, enriching, and supportive. It is all about perspective. I am not political. I have opinions, I have ideas, I have my own perspective. Do I believe my opinions, ideas and perspective to be accurate? I believe they are accurate for me. However, they are not accurate for all and I understand and respect that.
While celebrating my birthday on Monday night, we gathered with my mother-in-law and my very dear friend. This interaction made the concept of perspective very clear to me. My dear friend is of a completely different belief of political values and ideology. As we talked and discussed the events occurring in our country and around the world, it became very obvious to me how very different our mindset is concerning these events. As I sat listening to her discuss what she feels is best for our country, I found myself thinking, how polar opposite we are in our views. I found merit in her opinions, validity in her some of her points, and most of all a passion for what she believes.
I also found I do not agree with her at any level. I could have sat and argued with her. I could have chosen to be offended by her attitude. I could have taken the opportunity to try to sway her to my way of thinking. Did I do any of this? The answer is no. As I sat listening to her and her ideas, beliefs and ideology, instead I felt honored she shared her impassioned beliefs with me. I asked respectful questions, I gave respectful responses and she did the same. We had a discussion, a respectful discussion. We listened to one another. Did she sway my opinion and I hers, no. However, we understand each other a bit better and left that discussion to move on to lighter more entertaining topics.
My beloved friend does not share any of my political views but we are able to discuss politics and maintain our respect for each other. That is what I feel is missing in this country…mutual respect. We don’t have to agree. We can concede to respectfully disagree. We should concede to respectfully disagree. Political views do not change who that person is. When I became friends with Jane, I had no idea what her political views were. It didn’t matter to me. I saw a kindred spirit, a kind soul, a heart of gold, and a wicked sense of humor. All qualities I appreciate and value. As I got to know her better, I still did not know where she stood on her political views. Instead, I found a steadfast ally, a confidant, a loyal supporter, and a respected intellectual. It was almost two years into our friendship when we discussed politics for the first time. After quietly listening to my opinions after she had shared hers, she stated, “Tina, I’m afraid if I had known your political views earlier in our friendship, we couldn’t be friends.” I remember being cut deeply by that comment. However, we both understood we had found in one another a rarity in this world, a true friend. Something that political views could not change.
I hope others are able to come to this understanding. I know families who do not speak because of different political views. I know of friendships that are broken because of different political views. If one were to put aside their politics and simply view the world through the eyes of humanity, perhaps all this upheaval and unrest would dissipate. It matters not what party you affiliate with or for that matter the color of your skin, where you live, or where you go to church. The reality is, we all bleed red. We all put our pants on one leg at a time and we all face a variety of challenges on a daily basis. We are human beings and that is the affiliation we should make.
Perhaps if we felt grateful and appreciative to live in a country where we are free to openly discuss and share our differences, we would end this divisiveness. Perhaps, just perhaps, if one were able to put aside one’s opinions and actually listen to others who do not agree with one’s attitudes and opinions, one could come to a mutual understanding and acceptance would be found. Perhaps…
As always dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, one must remember to keep one’s head during these tumultuous times, and of course keep washing your hands.