Politics, Family, and Friends

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I think it is an appropriate time to expand on this life lesson a little bit. Given that we are in full swing election cycle, my Facebook wall and mailbox are crammed full of political posts. I’m not going to lie, it drives me insane. With that in mind, it is really tempting to comment on things just to stir the pot. I choose not to because people become so passionate about their political viewpoints. I learned a long time ago that it is okay to talk about politics, but sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

When I was growing up, I could have been considered an ultra conservative. I liked everything conservatives stood for: if it was good enough for our founding fathers, it’s good enough for me. Common sense ought to be the rule of law and things that are immoral ought to be illegal. This is all fine and well if you only surround yourself with people who think the same as you do. The problem with this is that you’ll never grow as a person unless you can get along with other people. I was completely surrounded with like minded people until I went to college. My friend, Will, was the first really liberal person I had become close friends with. We’ve had some lively political discussions over the years, but we always come away knowing more about the other and appreciating the experience. By listening to one another and finding common ground, we find that we actually agree on a lot of things and our minds have been opened to other possibilities. Over the years, my political views have become more libertarian than anything and I think for myself on issues.

Over the years, I’ve lost one or two friends over politics. I made a snide remark that dismissed a point of view that my friend held dear and he hasn’t spoken to me since. I regret that experience because it was a missed opportunity to learn more about something I had closed my  mind to. If I had treated him like my friend, Will, we would probably still be talking. I miss this friend, Josh, very much, but I also understand if I don’t get to speak to him again. Relationships are just too precious to throw away over a political point of view.

I’ve heard of some families that become estranged from  one another over politics. This is very sad because families are supposed to be there for one another, always. I think we, as people, get so wrapped up in our own personal concerns that we forget that other people have concerns, too. With this in mind, I think that some of the controversial things are just fine. I may not agree with the concept of abortion, but who am I to stand in someone else’s way? I can’t force them to agree with me using laws, but I can choose to not get one. It’s called tolerance and we need more of it.

Bottom line- learn to tolerate other people’s opinions and listen to them. You don’t have to agree, but you can acknowledge them and let them know you heard them. You can agree on some points and disagree on others, but remember, they’re just opinions and not matters of life and death for the most part.