The issue I would like to talk to you about is politics, and how it effects everyday relationships. Yes, I admit, I love a good debate. My friends reading this might be saying sarcastically, “Who...Lena? Talking about politics? NO WAY.” I'm pretty sure I get it from my dad, because it seems that like he is the first one to bring up politics at Thanksgiving dinner (yikes!) just like I'm always the first one to bring it up when hanging out with my group of friends. What is important here is the relationship between all the bullshit happening in the government, our stances on it, and how that plays a role in our friendships.
I like to follow my dad's lead. It's always entertaining to watch him start a heated debate. Our extended family is ridiculously diverse in color, religion, and of course, politics. We have people leaning far right, far left, middle-path, and people who simply distrust all forms of government. My dad will strike up a debate with all of them...all with a smile on his face and between bouts of booming laughter. It's lighthearted. He takes the issues seriously, and is very passionate and blunt in stating his opinions, but at the end of the day he respects his fellow people too much to be rude or dismissive towards them. This is what my approach to politics is like.
People before politics- that's my rule. My closest friend is black/Brazilian and a Republican. I am white /Syrian and a Democrat. We both have immense distaste for the two-party system, but she tends to lean conservative, and I tend to lean liberal. I am an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders, she voted for Cruz but would vote Trump if he was nominated. We couldn't be more different!! Admittedly, our debates over issues can get pretty heated- that is only natural, since we are both very passionate for our causes- but there is never any genuine anger. We respect and care for each other, and because of that we accept each-others differences of opinion, and focus on what we do agree on.
At the end of the day, isn't that how everyone's relationships should be? We are the citizens, the little people. The puppet show happening in Washington is so far away, and each individual candidate has far less power than we think. So while we rally behind our person and throw vicious hatred at the other team, the real politics is happening behind closed doors in other branches of government. It is our job to look past all the bullshit, and see people with compassion in our hearts and understanding in our minds. We must love and respect each other as fellow humans, regardless of how vast our differences may be. I have an example for this....
First we must understand that you are as sure of your beliefs as the person standing beside you. Think about that for a moment. Just as much as I believe gay marriage is rightfully legal, many people out there believe just as strongly that it shouldn't be. Everyone will have a list of reasons why they believe a certain thing, and that list comes from our past experiences and backgrounds. And since everyone has had hugely different experiences, isn't it expected that we don't agree? This realization helps me be more compassionate towards people. So the story goes, I find out that my closest friend supports Donald Trump. I totally freak out- “how could she do this? I just don't get it! He's racist, omg!!” That was my strong belief- that he is prejudiced. Over on her side of the story, “Bernie Sanders is a socialist! Socialism has no place in America!” See? Just as shocking of a statement.
We were both very firm in our beliefs, that much was clear. We took turns ranting about how wrong the other was till we had our fill. When it comes down to it, I know what she believes in and what her values are. I know how good of a person she is, and her political affiliation doesn't change that in any way shape or form. Our friendship is what matters, not the drama happening up top.
I invite everyone to implement this strategy in their own lives, and not just for politics but for all differences of opinion. This is a giant country filled with people who all have so much good to give. It would be such a shame to alienate and dismiss them just because you can't agree on one thing. Focus on the things you do agree on, find common ground, and lead on with love.