POLITICS ARE PERSONAL


Politics are personal... And I think we tend to forget that. Politics are about people; they represent the most central and important values we have about ourselves and the world around us. That is why they are so sensitive, emotional, and even painful. Many people will disagree with this statement and many will say oh I don't care about politics or I just don't get involved or people need to stop talking about the election. The truth is that anyone who has life experience and holds a political view; whether it fits well into one idealogical box or party or whether they choose to vote or express their views on Facebook. Everyone who is alive has an experience that guides the way they see and interpret the world and the lives of others. And since we all have our own experiences, politics are incredibly complex, incredibly important and incredibly personal. Whether it's an election or article on Facebook, we all are prompted to take a position, hence the mayhem. So how do we deal with this, why are we so impacted by the mere possibility that some of our nearest and dearest can think so differently from us? And what if we just can't respect a person after knowing where they stand? Some thoughts, please enjoy, respectfully. 

Speak now or just KEEP THE PEACE...


This is perhaps my number one concern. When we speak politically, we instantly expose ourselves and either validate or isolate others because the feelings involved in politics are too real. In this day of the internet and social media, people you know and even some you don't, are likely to disagree with you publicly. I don't think there is anything wrong with sharing your point of view, and many people do it quite gracefully, however, when other's who disagree start to weigh in, things tend to get tricky. If you are going to publicly express political views then you must be willing and able to deal with the potential conflict and there is a way to do this without being offensive, mean or attacking someone personally. For example, in response to an article I chose to share on my personal Facebook account, a friend of mine wrote the following: 



I suggest you read all the comments from your fellow women on that page. Many have valid points. I don't have any room to criticize because I'm not a woman, but I think it's interesting how so many women disagree with this article.

To which I responded,

Yes, there are woman who disagree, which is one of the things the article addresses. Clearly, I'm not one of them, hence the repost. Fortunately we all have valid points, just like we all have our own perspectives. Thank you for sharing yours. :)

I knew full and well that sharing my opinion on Facebook would create an opportunity for people to disagree with me, but I also promised myself that if someone did, I would allow them to respectfully. Fortunately, the conversation ended there and no particular points were raised that I felt I needed to respond to. But I do think that there is a peaceful way to respond to something you don't agree with. I think it also depends on the type of relationship you have with someone, perhaps for those really close to us we can just pick up the phone and have a conversation, rather then give other people the right to weigh in because it's accessible on Facebook. A response I would recommend would be something along the lines of this: you know I really value our relationship and therefore I would prefer we stop discussing this publicly. For the random people who somehow have access to what we might post, then it really comes down to what your intention is for sharing. Is it worth addressing publicly? Will I regret this tomorrow? What is the end goal in sharing my beliefs? What does it mean to me to share this view? Is it possible to get what I am asking for? If I don't get what I wanted out of this, then what? These are not reasons for you to post or not post, but rather questions that might be helpful in deciding how to share your views or best stand up for what you believe in. 


Yes, it may be a deal breaker, but maybe it doesn't have to be...


Political issues reflect some of our most important and pressing problems and so I don't think it's unreasonable to end a relationship with a person who disagrees with something that directly impacts your life or reflects your innermost core values. However, I think it is safe to say that many of those people also have very important and significant reasons for their disagreement. Sometimes people agree on some of the same issues but other ones that were more important to them were endorsed by an opposing candidate or party. We have to remember that not everyone prioritizes political issues in the same order, even if they have  similar views. And then of course, some people just don't agree, but we can't assume we understand their exact reasoning for that because we don't know their life experiences. 


Perhaps the goal can be to understand, rather then to agree...


So how then is it possible for us to learn from one another, listen to one another, accept one another, when we may have such different, polarizing views? It's a question I've been asking myself for so long, especially after the recent election and all of the concern for the divide in our country. One thing I know is that you can't expect people to agree or understand your point of view. Expectations are probably the one thing we all pretend to ignore at the dinner table. It's our expectation that if someone who thinks differently from us would just listen, then there is really no way for us to be wrong or not validated. We often expect people to listen to us, but the second they start talking, all we think about is our next argument. We must listen too or else it's not truly an equal exchange. Feel free to respectfully disagree, but I really think this is what ruins the conversation between people of different views, because when we start to realize that after giving many personal examples, statistics and even endorsements from people of power, the person next to us still insists we are wrong or the examples aren't relevant, we feel as if it's a personal attack against ourselves and our experiences. 

But if you still want people to agree...


If the goal really is to change peoples minds then we have to find a way to not take it so personally and understand the risk involved in allowing ourselves to be so vulnerable and potentially disappointed, as well as the risk involved in others defending themselves and you still not changing your mind. One of the ways most people change their political views is by having people close to them share experiences, over time, throughout their relationship. Changing peoples perspectives are not easy! Remember that our politics reflect our life experiences and therefore ourselves. So when you ask someone to change their political party, you are essentially asking them to be someone else. You must start small and be just as willing to listen, actually more willing to listen, then to share. If you can understand where someone is truly coming from, even if you don't agree, then you will be much more successful in making a relevant connection to their life experience.  


I must say from personal experience, this has happened to me and I have felt so incredibly angry and frustrated as a result. But I have also had some amazing moments of success in both listening to a view point with which I disagreed, as well as in explaining why I am so passionate in my disagreement with a particularly tense issue. I will always encourage people to advocate for what they believe for the rest of my life, but my hope is that we attempt to truly understand others in return and perhaps be willing to have the same experience of change in our own views as we expecting of others. 




"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 
{1 Corinthians 13: 4-7}


Much Love, 

-M

2 comments

  1. Beautifully said. Thank you for writing this.

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  2. You're amazing! This is beautiful; it comes from a smart, strong mind as well as a gentle, open heart. Glad you chose to share that with the world.

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