Monday, June 3, 2013

Crossing the Great Divide - Or Not

I am a liberal. Okay? Well, even if it’s not okay, I am and I find I spend an inordinate amount of time avoiding conversations on politics with people I know are conservative. Why? Because it serves no purpose to discuss politics since we are so far apart. There is no way we are going to change each other’s minds and in the end, we’ll lose what we do have – friendship, companionship or possibly even a family relationship. 

I’m getting fairly good at sitting through hours of Fox News when visiting one relative, enduring discussions around the dinner table with folks with vastly different opinions than me about immigration, ObamaCare, President Obama himself, his wife, his birthplace, the various scandals that have recently popped up. 

I made two mistakes recently. I was lured into one hot disagreement about immigration with this sentence, “Being born in America should not be the criteria for being an American.” I charged in as the only liberal in the room and it was a huge waste of energy and terribly frustrating for me (and I’m sure the people I was talking to.)

I had made the decision that in the future I would leave the room and I fully intend to follow that protocol. But today, I made a slip. I asked a friend, who is a passionate Conservative, to read a letter to President Obama, which had in its beginning paragraph references to my admiration for him.  I prefaced the request with the statement, “Try not to gag on the first paragraph,” hoping to lighten the moment, but in reality, I shouldn’t have put her in that position. I’m uncomfortable when I’m asked to agree (as if it’s a given) with someone who knows I have the exact opposite opinion. My bad.

I struggle online not to engage in the various stabs at politicians or political entities, partly because, once and if I start, I’m going to spend inordinate amounts of time at it. The other part of the equation is that online I am a writer, first and foremost. I want to connect to readers and other writers. My purpose for being there is not to spout political opinions. I’ll leave that to others for whom the purpose of social media is to express their politics, and I have no issues with their agenda; to each their own. 

Really - that’s why we love this country, right? The right to have our own opinions, and express them, if we choose.


  1. Kathy, I have to so agree with you on this point. I used to be quite the "firebrand" but those days are long, long gone. On Facebook I don't seem to have any moderate friends to speak of...they are all on one end of the spectrum or the other. If a conservative friend says something that I agree with I will like or comment on it, the same for a liberal friend but I take great efforts to not post ANYTHING that will rile up my friends no matter what their political persuasion. It just isn't worth the energy any longer. With family I just roll my eyes and move on down the road. A few weeks ago I made the mistake of directing my sister to Snopes. I think she is still mad at me for that and got quite hateful about a simple link being sent to her. Whatever! LOL!!!

    On Twitter I am a whole lot more free! I use Twitter mostly for news and information. I do have a few online writer friends, like you who follow me there but only a few people who really know me. I send out political tweets fairly often because most of the people who follow me are more or less of my political mindset and the rest just ignore me anyway. I love being free to tweet with relative impunity.

    I wish you well in avoiding most politics online. It really does make life easier in the long run. I just wish I'd figured that out about 15 years ago. LOL!!!



  2. Now I have to check out Snopes. Haven't heard of it. Sometimes, I wish I wasn't so involved with other stuff online so I could be more vocal, but then I don't think I'd expose as much of myself as I do now.

    It's always great to hear from you. I broke through my writer's block and I'm on a roll now!

    Thanks, Ardee-Ann!

  3. I must disagree.

    I do concede that it’s best to avoid confrontation with family members, companions of circumstance (co-workers, your doctor, your hairdresser, especially when holding scissors), and even casual friends. Stick to the weather and leave out politics and religion.

    However, true friendship transcends differences of opinion, and healthy relationships celebrate individuality. One of the true joys of my life is a close friendship with a woman my age. We share a fundamental belief that our children are the most important part of our lives and we are fierce mothers. We both value independence and competency. We enjoy different personalities – she is artistic and daring; I am cautious and deliberate. We are often polar opposites in our political beliefs.

    Through our friendship, I have learned to be less cautious a bit more daring. My friend nurtures and encourages my creative side. I like to think my measured approach to life provides her some balance. Over the years we have agreed and disagreed on many things. Occasionally we snark at each other. More often, our opposing views result in great hilarity and we’ve giggled our way through many lunches and phone calls.

    It would sadden me to think my friend would hesitate to share a letter she had written. I hope she trusts our friendship enough to know that a difference of opinion would not prevent me from offering encouragement and support. Despite differing opinions I value her as a person and cherish our relationship.

    Although, if she warned me not to gag, I might just have to put my hand to my throat and make choking noises first. Just for a minute or two…

    1. This a beautiful comment and a wonderful point of view, but I must insist, because I personally can't go there without being honest and I find honesty breeds really violent disagreements. That's been my experience. Those are hard to recover from.

      I don't think it's about trust. It think it's about passion and frankly, it's the stuff that made that caused brothers to fight on different sides of the Civil War.

      I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to express yourself so generously here.