You Want Make it Through this Election? Let Love and Respect Win the Day.
I don't usually think it's wise to make assumptions, but I'm pretty confident about this one. No matter what your political persuasion, you're probably not looking forward to the next several weeks.
Because this is fabulous timing for a contentious presidential election...
2020 has hurt. And, one of the aspects of this year that has damaged us the most is our inability to place any given issue into neutral territory. Absolutely everything, from Covid and race relations, to a piece of cloth that covers our faces, has torn us apart. The dissension among us is salt in our wounds, and we are exhausted.
I know I’m not the only one who wonders how we’re going to make it to the other side of November 3rd.
When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg recently passed away, I was reminded of something we all learned after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. If you know anything about the make-up of the Court, you know these two could not have been more ideologically different. Yet, as politically opposed as they may have been, Judges Scalia and Ginsberg were close personal friends of more than twenty years, vacationing and enjoying opera together, and even regularly ringing in New Year’s together with their families. Despite their dissenting views on the Court, they managed to do what so many of us have been unable to over these past few months: see beyond the issues of the day and into the hearts of those around us. Scalia’s son Christopher said about his father's and Ginsberg's friendship after her death, "They held very strong, very different views. They wrote opinions that disagreed with each other’s opinions, and they didn’t pull any punches in those opinions. But, they never let those strong, deeply held beliefs get in the way of their friendship.” (1)
Seems inconceivable, doesn't it? Especially right now.
The cyclical nature of politics is interesting. Every four years we have a presidential election, and up and down we go, as our political landscape evolves. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans are at the helm forever, yet the irony is that we often sacrifice what does remain constant - the relationships that we value - for a moment in time. As we fight for the opportunity to be “right” in our political discourse with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, it's doubtful that we'll actually bring anyone who already has their own well-established views to our side. Yet, the opposite is true when it comes to the ease with which we can leave relationship wreckage in our wake, if we aren’t careful.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have opinions about what’s best for our communities and fight for what we believe in, but what would it look like if we simply did so with our eyes and hearts open? Did you know that there are incredible human beings out there who are staking signs and hanging flags for the presidential candidate you wouldn't dream of voting for this November? I hate to think of the number of friendships that simply never happened because of our inability to see beyond the ideological views of the person sitting next to us. How tragic when we let politics cloud the goodness in other people during a time when we all need goodness more than ever.
From the outside looking in, it’s hard to believe Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg would have much to say to each other outside of the Court, let alone want to do life together in the way that they did. But, their journeys were richer because they had the ability to look beyond the surface to find a wealth of so much more. For them, love and respect won the day.
We have a unique 2020 moment, yet again, to do the very same thing.