I can’t think of any subject that could use more harmony in this country than politics, so a story about finding harmony between people of different political persuasions. . . .
I read an article in Time (December 17) by Rob Long, a rare conservative in liberal Hollywood. He wrote about how gentle and understanding his liberal friends were after the election, consoling him with sympathetic invites and making cheer-up statements like, “’You guys need to get your act together and then come back swinging.’”
I thought–how refreshing in the age of, I’m unfriending you and I never want to hear from you again, because you voted for Obama.
Duly inspired, I tried it out on one of my conservative friends. She’d shocked me a few weeks ago by spreading some obvious propaganda (e.g. that Obama had sent back the Churchill bust to England shortly after he took office in 2008) that I later verified as such on the fact checking site, Snopes.com. (a picture of Tony Blair and Obama looking at the bust in the White House in 2010).
I wanted to gently call her on this, but at the same time express unifying and harmonious statements that wouldn’t offend and separate, but would bond and bring together.
It would be a challenge but challenges are good for us, right? As a mental health professional, I am constantly encouraging my clients to challenge themselves, to get outside the box, to do things that scare them. I have to walk the talk.
So I gently approached the topic. I asked her if she was familiar with Snopes.com and had she used it. “Yes and yes,” she replied. Great. Progress.
Then I tiptoed in. “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings but . . . after our conversation last week, I looked up those things you told me about O and Snopes.com refuted them all.”
To soften the blow, I added, “You know I’m a Republican at heart, right? Or at least in my fiscal heart. But at the same time, there are some parts of the party’s platform I can never swallow.”
She hadn’t hung up on me. So far so good. I told her about the Time story and expressed agreement with the author: that I too hoped her party would rally and come back stronger and swinging next time around.
Even though I felt I had to let her know about the obvious fallacies she had repeated to me, I assured her I didn’t want this to come between us. To my surprise she was very responsive and agreed to check out the stories on Snopes.com.
An important realization I had later was that I had no desire to change her. However, I did feel a need to stand up in a healthy way for truth. Underneath it all? A desire to grow closer to a friend. And that’s when harmony happens. In politics. In all things. Let it happen to you!
p.s. Immediately after this conversation I had an appointment with a woman who’s assignment was to learn to NOT put people off. A confirmed liberal, she had a habit of judging those different from her. Her assignment: to make some friends with people different from her. To judge less. To accept more. Coincidence? I don’t think so!