More Political Than I Think<

I’m not a political person per se, though that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions, or that I don’t read the news and am not informed. I’m just not into discussing my thoughts with everyone I cross paths with.

Actually, I really don’t like talking politics with anyone.

I value my friendships and connections more than discussing politics. Though I miss out on the possibility of constructive debate and growth of mind that can come when discussing ideas, whether we agree or not.

It’s easy to discuss politics when the other person agrees with me, because my ideas and opinions get reinforced.

When I discuss politics with someone who doesn’t agree with me, a rush of feelings rumble under my skin. I may feel like I’m vibrating right of my body. My hands may sweat. My temper may rumble to the surface, and I will have a fight or flight response hit my gut.

I forget I don’t need to fight or flee because of my feelings. I can breathe and remember all I need do is weigh and consider what another is saying, even if I disagree. I can ask questions and speak from my own heart without the expectation that I will change another’s opinion. I also don’t have to fear that if someone is expressing a different view, that I am obligated to agree with them or that we can’t be friends anymore.

We can agree to disagree. What a novel idea.

What I most dislike about politics is how people put each other in boxes. A label is attached to the box, that’s all encompassing, and they’re forever that way, whether it’s true or not.

There’s a loss of humanity and a loss of recognition that the human brain consistently holds differing ideas at the same time regardless of which political party you associate with.

Most political ideologies have “big ideas” that rarely translate into everyday living. When I consider my everyday actions, a lot of my sweeping, big idea, generalizations don’t fit.

There’s hypocrisy in how we view the world and how we actually show up in the world. Most people will read that and disagree, “I don’t do that. I totally live what I preach.”

Check again.

I’ve found it’s easy to talk about my ideals. To live them requires a steady and unfaltering commitment that can be difficult to muster, especially, if one of my ideals bumps up against someone I love or something I want. So much of living and making choices originates out of individual circumstances rather than big, blanketing absolutes.

And let’s not forget, because I know I’m not the only one, I’m way better at living my ideals when someone else is watching. When they’re not looking, I have to dig deep to keep my commitments to what I say I believe.

And then, of course, there’s always my rationalization and justification that convinces me that my ideals are way more important for other people to live, because they’re doing it wrong, but for me, well, I’m an exception, because I’m so good I can let them fall to the wayside when they’re inconvenient to maintain.

Here’s a personal story. I used to live in Wyoming. I lived there for four years and came to love it. I created an enjoyable life there, made deep friendships that I will forever cherish, and gained many spiritual gifts.

I now live back in my hometown of Missoula, Montana, a very liberal town, and most people, when I mention that I lived in Wyoming, put the state down and are in disbelief that I could ever have enjoyed my stay there.

Wyoming is a “red” state. Everyone who lives in Wyoming is put in a “red” state box and labeled “bad”. I wish I could convince people otherwise, but I can’t.

We are in such a divided time… I say that and then remember history lessons where things were more divided or much the same.

Change comes from diversity and not just from the diversity that I deem acceptable.

Sometimes the conversation we don’t want to have, the one that makes us want to run out of the room or choke the person in front of us, is the one we need to calmly and respectfully have.

Why?

Is it to convince the other person that I am right and they are wrong?

No.

The conversation is more about blurrying the edges of the boxes I put people and myself in. As people in Missoula might find with people in Wyoming, they are more similar than different, even though they may hold opposing political views.

That’s not to say every person in Wyoming voted Republican, nor that every person in Missoula voted Democrat. That would be another sweeping generalization, plunking everyone in a box, that just doesn’t fit everyday living.

I didn’t vote the Democratic ticket, though people assume I did. I didn’t vote Republican either, but I did vote.

How can we work on dismantling our boxes–the ones we put ourselves and others in?

Can we cultivate willingness to listen to differing opinions? Can we assume goodwill, when meeting others who have opposing views? Is it possible that a person’s political affiliation is not the only thing to know about them?

When we’re sitting with others, instead of cataloging them Conservatives or Liberals, Leftists or Right-wingers, can we set aside their political affiliation and see them as a person first? Forget about the upper elected officials, let’s look at one another, face to face, neighbor to neighbor.

Whether we assume or know another’s voting preference, we create the polarization in our country. There’s no “them” that’s doing it. We’re doing it.

We have the potential to make a real difference when we stem from our similarities rather than our differences, because when we connect in similarity we have a chance to cultivate real change.

Reason cannot be attained if our platform doesn’t begin there. I’ve never had a fruitful conversation with another person when I’ve started out telling them how awful they were.

Now, for a person who’s not political per se… Maybe I’m more political than I think.

***

Image Source: Pexels

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