(Warning: This is the first blog I’ve written that may actually make some people mad. But it’s something that’s been weighing on my heart for quite a long time.)
That picture above…I don’t know about you, but it speaks to me.
Again, I can only speak from personal experience, but…if you’re anything like me, you’ve lost some friends in the past few years.
Somehow we’ve gone from discussing things…trying to understand each other’s views…and either agreeing or disagreeing, but doing it with understanding and compassion…to…well…ANGER AND YELLING! So. Many. People. are constantly angry…and almost like they’re looking for a reason to be angry. They’re not trying to even SEE the middle, much less meet there.
“But, Sheri! There are certain things that there IS no middle ground for!!!”
Yeah, no. I’m not buying that either.
Are there morally wrong stances? Absolutely.
Are there ideas and actions that are completely reprehensible and should never be tolerated in society? OF COURSE!
Are most of your friends or family standing on that side of the line? Probably not so much.
But we’re putting them there.
We’re reading into what they do…what they say…or, more often, what they DON’T do or say…and we’re judging who they must be at the core.
You have no idea who someone is at their core without communicating with them and trying to see where their life circumstances, experiences, and beliefs lie. Communication (REAL communication with an open heart) breeds connection. Through connection is where we begin to understand each other.
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Sheri isn’t talking to me. I don’t do that.”
Maybe you don’t. If you *truly* don’t, I applaud you. However, I ask you to consider some recent world conditions that have caused these types of rifts.
First, let’s look at the political climate of our world. It’s not really a secret that I can’t stand Trump. I didn’t like him from the beginning. Personally, he actually IS someone that I find to be a little reprehensible because *I feel* that he breeds animosity, negativity, hatred and strife. That being said, I also have other political beliefs. That we have too much government. That both sides have lost their minds to some extent because they’re at constant war…sometimes just to argue. That if everyone who said, “I’d vote third party if it weren’t a wasted vote” actually voted third party…it wouldn’t be a wasted vote. That EVERY POTUS we ever have/have had will do something I agree with and something I don’t, no matter what “side” they ran on or how I feel about them in general. And…mostly…that I will not and can not EVER judge someone based purely on which “side” they vote for. Instead, I look at WHY they vote the way they vote. Maybe someone is first generation American…and the thought of stopping immigration terrifies them because they imagine that they wouldn’t be here if that had been the case for their parents. Maybe someone is first generation wealthy and they are terrified of losing a stability that they have long fought for. Maybe they’re survivors of a trauma that makes them feel safer having a firearm in their possession. One instance that I try to keep in mind. A friend of mine is someone that very strongly supported Trump. Based on what I know of her, that surprised me at first. She’s loving and kind and caring and generous. How could she support someone like him?!?! You know what? I’m really glad I asked her that exact question. She lives in a ranching area where illegal immigration and lax borders are a very serious problem that create major issues for her family and livelihood. She supports stricter borders. That makes complete and total sense based on her life. How could I judge that as wrong? I can’t. But that’s exactly what I could have found myself doing if I didn’t talk to her.
Another issue I’ve seen so many of us lose friends over in the past year…COVID. Good Lord, everyone has an opinion on the right way to live during COVID. “Stay home!” “Don’t take away my right to leave my house!” “Kids need to be in school!” “Schools need to be closed!” “Wear a mask!” “Masks are useless!” You guys…It’s. Exhausting. Do I have the right answers? HECK NO. Neither does anyone else. For someone who lives with a compromised immune system (or a loved one who has one), I can understand why they want to stay home. For someone (and I include myself here) who lives without any other adults and relies on their people and activities to stay mentally healthy…staying home is terrifying. For someone very worried about getting ill, of course they want to wear a mask and think everyone should! It’s their livelihood! For those with asthma…I can attest to the fact that long periods in masks suck. (But they are doable…and, while I don’t judge those who are anti-mask, I may be a little more on the “it doesn’t actually hurt anyone to wear one” side…). For someone who is a stay at home parent…they probably prefer to have their children home where they know they’re safe from getting ill. For a single parent or a family who CAN NOT afford to lose income they rely on and don’t have remote work opportunities…they NEED their children to be in school or their entire world (and that child’s world) will crumble.
If we talked to each other we’d learn these things about each other. We’d understand WHY our friends/family believe what they believe…do what they do…or don’t do what they don’t do. We may still disagree with them, but we could disagree with them without hating them. We could disagree with them without throwing barbs of contention in their direction. We could understand…sympathize…and maybe walk away knowing, “I can’t agree with your position based on my own life…but I get it for yours.”
So…tell me…are you meeting in the middle?