Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's Talk Anyway

Here are two completely separate interactions that happened to me this week that have me churning.  The examples I'm going to give are two moments that took place in one day and smashed up in my mind but they are not unique or unusual. Let me know what you think.

First, a lovely get together with a friend who I haven't seen in a long time (except in Facebook land) and she asks me about writing this blog.  She admits that she saw the title and figured that as a single woman without children it wouldn't hold much interest or might even feel like a little pinch of salt on a sore spot.  I cringed, realizing that the very title of the blog had felt like an exclusionary clause to someone I like quite a lot.

Second, scanning some Facebook updates I see a relative remarking pretty harshly about the President and longing for his days in office to end soon.  I read the remarks and recoiled.  We like each other.  Just last month we were together face-to-face and sharing some important stories and experiences.

So, I'm thinking about how I listen to others. Do I speak honestly or defensively? Do I avoid people who I know will have a different point of view?  Are there ways that I could show myself to be more open to others?  Am I allowing myself opportunities to be challenged or taught by another?

Because here's the thing, I'll just be very blunt.  I can't afford to draw lines in the sand based on who's "with me".  If I decided to only talk with family members who were going to vote for Obama like me, I'd have maybe a handful of family left, including third cousins twice removed.  If I could only find wisdom from people who shared my spiritual beliefs, I might only have my own counsel to turn to - not a great option.

Here's the reality, we do like and love a ton of people who we don't completely understand. I had my four siblings with me a couple weeks ago and not one of us shares the same spiritual practices or lifestyle as one of the others.  We are incredibly different.  And yet we talk anyway.  We may get misunderstood and feel hurt sometimes but we aren't writing each other off and we're certainly not calling names or labeling each other as "them" or "those people".  In the big picture, I'm going to try and carry these thoughts with me, even into this crazy election season.  I'm a 46 year old, white, mom, who's voting for Obama.  Let's talk anyway.


  1. coincidence: i spent the last week thinking A LOT about this. i just returned from a vacation spent with two other families. Both are old friends and I still enjoy their company and care about them a lot. but we have very different political and spiritual ways of being. at first i felt isolated and worried that the decision to vacation with them was a mistake. but as the week went on, we all relaxed and our old familiarity resurfaced. we ended up really enjoying each other. i agree it's important to remain open to people who don't share our views. it can be difficult, but i believe it helps to bring understanding to all sides. thanks for this post - so funny that i read it just after returning from this vacation...

    1. I feel an increase of fear and self-protection amongst the people in my life. If we concede a point or take time to just listen, our safety or superiority will suffer. That's what it seems, at least. It's more than just politics. This escalation is the psycho-social equivalent of "stick, knife, gun". We're going to have to figure it out if we're going to continue living together.