I am an American. It is one of my labels. I am part of a large group with many subsets. I remember learning the word melting pot long ago in elementary school. It gave me such a great visual. It made me think of beautiful crayons melting and swirling together. It made me happy to be one of those colors. It comforted me to realize the freedoms that we shared together. As I grew older and learned more, I came to understand that our trajectory toward those freedoms was a rocky road and a slippery slope. Every country has its skeletons. Ours in no different. But as a country, we seemed to be using our history to make us better.
We’ve always had stereotypes here,…. age, racial, religious, political, gender, and cultural. I, too, am guilty. Within the stereotypical arena of life, there also lies a niche of extremes. Extremes, by their very nature take us to the edge of that cliff. It catapults us in our own stratosphere of truth with no room for another view. Potentially great things can go very awry in the land of extremes. We see this in our world every day. Working is good; being a workaholic becomes a destructive force. Eating is good and healthy; overeating causes a myriad of health problems. Exercise is good, taken to the extreme, exercise can lead to injury. Religion is good, but when it becomes overzealous and when being “right” trumps discipleship, then it spins into a judgmental universe. Even Love, the greatest life force of all, can be smothering in the extreme.
Political debate about issues is good, but when it burns into the arena of personal attack and character assassinations, it becomes a virtual wildfire. I had chosen to stay out of the fray of political posting, not because I didn’t have a strong opinion, but rather in deference to those that had views different than my own. I would greatly enjoy the discourse face-to-face, but a FB wall was not the desired forum for me. In looking at the barrage of acerbic feeds before and after the election, I am saddened that we have moved into the land of the extremes and camped out there. We are all a cocktail of our beliefs, forged by our gender, our birth order, our family of origin, our experiences, and our personality types. The combinations and permutations are endless. We are not all painted by the same brush. How many times have you formed an opinion about someone based on a stereotype you held to be true, only to get to know them and find that you couldn’t have been more wrong. Their story shaped who they were, who they became, and what they believe.
However, I see that we have all been clearly ear-marked by our VOTE. People that may not even know me have decided that I am a particular TYPE of person. My character, gender, race, religion, and my intelligence have been called into question and highly insulted. Things that are being said are so untrue of my beliefs, and so unfair! May I kindly remind you that people of both genders, all ages, all races, all religious persuasions, and all levels of education fall on BOTH sides of that vote. Just perhaps, they made their decision based on their past experiences, their present circumstances, and their future hopes and dreams. And your vote may be different for the very same reasons!! It doesn’t equate that one is “right-er” than the other.
Friends are de-friending friends!! What in the world? Come on people, how narrow is our path if we only like the people that believe exactly the same way we do? That will keep you into a pretty slender mindset if you are never challenged to see another perspective or never challenged to actually articulate what you believe in the face of a differing opinion. Let go of your attachment of being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. If you believe that TOLERANCE is a desirable trait , then we all need to show a little grace here and agree to disagree and still have a cooperative relationship. If I have a friend that doesn’t wish to be my friend anymore because we disagree, then I guess they were never really my friend to begin with. A friendship lives in the heart. It means understanding, not agreeing. It is intertwined with far more than a political belief.
I will continue to love my friends and respect their beliefs whether or not that is returned back to me. I’m sure if we sat down together and had a conversation, we could walk around the table and begin to understand why we each believe the way we do. After all, it was a melting pot of ideas that made us great in the beginning.
“If you have to choose between being right and being kind, choose being kind and you will be right every time.”