Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friends and Politics...

Well another four years have rolled around and it’s down to the wire with the Presidential election. Everyone is digging in their heels for their candidate, the guy who is going to make things better for all of us. We all want the same thing, to see our country grow and thrive. A chicken in every pot and a roof over everyone’s head. Prosperity. We want peace in the world and for countries with long standing, historical differences to get along, but ironically as friends, we can’t even get along. There is unfriending and blocking and distancing going on all over the social media because people cannot just agree to disagree. Few can respect another’s right to have their own opinion. It’s a shame.

Let me tell you about my Republican friends. As I look at my friend list I can tell you that they are intelligent people; passionate about their views; religious in their beliefs; compassionate and caring souls; well intentioned; and most of the time I forget they we are on opposite side of the political forum. As for my Democratic friends, they are equally intelligent, passionate and caring people who would drop whatever they are doing to help someone in need. When there is no election, you can hardly tell the two groups apart. But every four years we have to decide on a new leader and politics can be a very divisive force, if you let it.

In the 2008 election there was quite a bit of division among my friends. It was pretty bad. I am not one to censor anyone or tell them how or what they should believe. I don’t take politics personally, it’s just a subject to discuss and debate. Some people do take it personally to the point of giving up friends and arguing with loved ones. It makes no sense to me. But there is one experience I had in 2008 that I would like to tell you about.

Back in May, 2008 I had a friend that I had met online in a forum designed to discuss American Idol. I was new to the forum, she was not. Someone there insulted her daughter in vulgar terms and no one in the forum would come to her aid or defense, but I did. I had two daughters that were around her daughter’s age and I knew how hurt she was. From that point on, we became friends. We chatted everyday. We even met in the city when she came for a visit with her daughter. I brought my daughters and we all had dinner. Then the election rolled around. We didn’t see eye to eye on anything, but I just took it for granted that it wouldn’t impact the friendship at all. So, when she mentioned that she was having some difficulty getting financial aid for her daughter’s last year of college, I immediately began doing research trying to find viable options for her. As I was scouring the internet for solutions to her problem, she was trying to organize “a posse” of our mutual friends to confront me about my political views. One Monday morning she appears online and types I need to talk to you. I am thinking it’s about her financial situation regarding tuition and I was prepared to help. But no, it had nothing to do with that. She had been sending out literally hundreds of emails over the weekend, trying to get people to join forces with her over my political views and posts. To say I was blindsided is to put it mildly. She aggressively ranted in IM, and I sat quietly, taking it all in. My brain could not comprehend what was happening. I was hurt, disappointed and angry. I felt totally betrayed. But, I didn’t lash out. I sat and thought about it. I questioned a couple of people to be sure I had come to the right conclusions about what had transpired. I felt like a fool. All the while I was trying to help her, she was trying to throw me under the bus with other friends; how does someone do this who calls you a friend? I thought about it for about four days. The trust was shattered, so what was left of the “friendship?” I decided to write her a long email telling her exactly what I thought of her. I told her that her definition of friendship and my definition were very different. I terminated the relationship, but really it never existed. She wasn’t who I thought she was, she was a real backstabber. She totally disregarded every good thing about me and focused 100% on my political views. To her that was all that mattered.

Politics addresses some very important issues that we all care about. We all have the same goal in mind, we want the same outcome for the country and its citizens. We just have different ideas of how to achieve these goals. In the end, no matter how each of us votes, it isn’t going to change who gets elected, is it? I live in a state that always votes democratic. If I lived in a swing state, my husband’s vote would cancel mine out. Either way, I have no significant impact on the election. How many of us do? Is it worth losing good friends over it? Is it worth creating hard feelings between loved ones? For me the answer is a clear and simple: no. Relationships should be built on what we have in common and not destroyed by our differences. Elections come and go. Good friends are hard to find and keep. If you have them, cherish them. And, may the best man win.

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