I had a quasi-conservative phase a long time back. It was as you’d expect: I watched Fox, read National Review, listened to friends who were avid conservatives, parroted their points of view online to other people, picked the most extreme liberal articles I could find and held them up as examples of how crazy liberals were and how they had no sense of perspective or humor.
As should be obvious if you’ve listened to me lately, I gradually got over this phase and am nowhere near it now. But it did take years. And what I want to do today is thank the many people I knew who, despite being liberals throughout, stayed friends with me during that phase. Even while I was repeating arguments I am now ashamed of, they disagreed, but they didn’t give up on me. They somehow kept seeing something in me that was worth being friends with, even at my most obnoxious. These people are awesome for this. I haven’t forgotten.
I’m thinking of them now especially, because I see other friends or family trying on a similar phase, or perhaps not a phase at all; they’ve always been conservative. It’s just that being conservative or liberal in the modern day feels more than ever like taking sides in a deadly war. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t actually have to be that way.
My liberal friends still liked me even when I was conservative, and I still liked them. I still like my conservative friends and family even though I’m liberal now. I’m not going to be the one to cease communications. Others didn’t give up on me, so I won’t give up on others.
The climate being what it is, I do have conservative friends and family who have gone mysteriously silent toward me, ever since I’ve made it clear that I Do Not Like the current administration. I don’t know if their silence is because of my opinion, or if they’re just busy. They haven’t said. But if they’re reading this, I want them to know: I’m still happy to talk to you and know you. I still see plenty to admire in you. If there’s a wall that’s gone up here, you’ve built it, not me.
People talk about grace a lot, and not being religious, I don’t know what exactly it means in a religious sense. To me, though, those friends who stayed patient and kind toward me throughout my changing opinions have displayed the definition of grace. That’s the kind of grace I strive for. I struggle with it still, but it’s what I’m trying to accomplish.
I know plenty of you are on the receiving end of a wall like this, with friends or family who won’t talk to you because of the current political climate. This is happening on BOTH sides. To you I can only say I’m sorry, and I don’t know what you can do other than wait it out and be happy as best you can. But to those of you who are the ones building that wall: please don’t. Consider unbricking it, saying hello again. Talking about something OTHER than politics, something that used to bring you and that other person together onto the same page.
Do we really want to let those idiots in government define who we like? I sure don’t. Think about it. Think what kind of world you want to live in. One where friends have to agree on absolutely everything, or one where friends can wait out each other’s difficult phases with grace. It’s hard, I know. But consider it. That’s all.