When Divorce Is A Good Thing
It imploded during the 2004 election.
Though there were A LOT of issues that contributed to the demise of the community, politics was was the match that ignited the dry and crackling tinder of discontent.
I understand being committed to a cause. I understand being passionate about beliefs. I myself have been a rabid defender of certain ideals. And I myself have, at times, let those ideals cloud my judgement and skew my reasoning.
But I was completely shocked and dismayed by the ease with which people foresook longstanding friendships in the name of political fanaticism.
That experience changed my perspective quite a bit.
Ideals are good. Ideals motivate and inspire. They shape our views and our values. They give us a foundation upon which to build our lives and base our morality.
But what they cannot to do is...
Bake you a cake on your birthday because nobody else thought of it.
Take you out for ridiculously expensive coffee to take your mind off that awful new haircut.
Tell you that your ass looks fat in those jeans in a thoroughly non judgemental way.
Listen to you bitch about your rotten kids without feeling the need to remind you how lucky you are.
Assure you that just because he has been late three nights this week, your husband is not having an affair. And then offer to emasculate him if he is.
Bring you soup when your sick and chocolate when you're hormonal.
Collect your kids and take them to the park just because you've had enough already.
Do you see what I mean?
Ideals can't replace people. You can't live, laugh and love with ideals. You can't grow old with them. And they won't remember you fondly or tell stories about you for generations to come.
Recently, I reconnected with a dear old friend. When I was hurt and reeling and lost, she took me in. It's what she does. She takes in stray people. She gave me a place to wallow and lick my wounds until I was ready to emerge again, like a butterfly from it's chrysallis; stronger, wiser, and ready to soar.
We were like sisters for many years.
But then I met Husband and my life began to change. It was hard for her to see me realizing dreams we both shared. Watching my family grow just hurt her too much. We lost touch when being a Mother became the focus of my life.
But years later, we are both older and wiser. She went in search of me and I went in search of her and we laughingly found one another in the least likely of places; Facebook.
We arranged to meet, but I was nervous. I had noted that she is now a staunch conservative. And she no doubt had noted that I am a bleeding heart liberal. She has rediscovered the Christian faith in which she was raised. I, of course, am a Godless Heathen.
I fretted that this would make things awkward. I tend to keep my theological and my political inclinations to myself, but it seems that she has become very outspoken about them. Southerners in general are more expansive and forthcoming about such things, I've found. As a Northerner, I am more naturally reserved.
Husband told me I was borrowing trouble. He said that she was the same person she had always been and so was I and stop overthinking the way you always do for God's sake!
It was sound advice, but still I fretted about it. What if she tried to convert me? My stomach knotted thinking about how I could tell her I wasn't interested in asking Jesus or John McCain into my heart without fraying the thin thread of our newly rekindled frienship beyond what it could bear.
My past experiences had taught me that some people can't divorce their particulars from their politics. (Elphaba, Wicked.) Some don't want to.
But you know what? Husband was right. She was the same person she had always been. I had forgotten what a sunny disposition she has, how infectious her laugh, how warm her heart.
Politics never came up. And only once did the conversation steer dangerously near the topic of religion. I sidestepped the issue as tactfully as I could and she graciously changed the subject. It did not cast a pall on our reunion as I had feared it might. It was there and then it was gone and nothing had changed.
Maybe, at some point, when the tenuousness is gone and we once again know each other as well as we did back in the day; when the timidity has evaporated and frankness is acceptable again.....maybe it will come up.
And what will I tell her then?
I will say...
Listen...I love you and I don't want to lose our friendship again. I don't agree with you, but I don't have to agree with you to know that you are an amazing person and a wonderful friend. I respect your beliefs and I won't try to change them, even though I can't share them. I hope you can do the same for me.
And that's really what I want to say to you all today.
Don't put conditions on friendships that are really important to you. Don't sacrifice someone because their beliefs are different from yours. And don't shove your views down a friend's throat at every opportunity, hoping that at some point, they'll swallow just so they can breathe again.
I will never, for the life of me, understand why politics are more important to some people than, well...people. I will also never understand why those people have to villify and demean those who disagree with them.
I'm not stupid. Or ignorant. Or blind. Or gullible. Or sheeplike.
I simply believe differently than you.
And I believe that despite that, we can be friends.
Let the politicians hate each other. We can do better.