It’s less than a month from the election, and I’ve needed to back away from the social media. Anyone else felt just too bombarded by articles, memes, opinions and videos to avoid getting overwhelmed?
I knew it was time to back away for a while when I found myself asking – in a post – friends that support the candidate I don’t like to unfriend me. As in, because you support this candidate, I don’t want to know you anymore.
I’ve never felt that strongly about a political election.
But this one seems to be drawing out the stripped-down, raw and steely core of me.
Is it worth losing some friendships over, however?
It’s one thing if these people posted all the time, filling my newsfeed with articles and ideas that I question, or if they threw around bashing memes about other candidates or other people. Or if they showed disrespect and immature shaming of others. I have unfriended and distanced myself from people who are disrespectful and mean, even when they agree with me on principle.
But these friends don’t do that.
My friends who support a person I am wholly against are quiet. Gentle. They post good things, positive things. Funny videos, and pictures of their families. The only reason I know they may support this candidate is because I went to that political page and it showed me who on my friends list had liked it. That doesn’t even say the degree to which they support, or if they’ve changed their mind, or how they will vote.
None of which is my business.
My business is how they treat others. How they treat me. What they want for the world, and our community.
I closed out Facebook on my computer for a few days (haven’t yet gone back) to find my center again. This happens fairly regularly, usually after I notice myself thinking and behaving in ways I wouldn’t want someone to behave towards me. Would I want one of these people to unfriend me because of who I supported? A few of them wouldn’t make much difference, as they are not close friends, but a few of them I would feel a loss if politics came between us. If one of them unfriended me because of my political views, I would feel resigned, and sad. Disappointed. But I would rationalize it as letting go of someone who is negative and doesn’t really know or understand me.
So I had to ask….is that ME? I found myself feeling so angry that I thought, “If I have friends who are supportive of everything I stand against, I want nothing to do with them.” I asked them to unfriend me, and I didn’t even know who I was speaking to, specifically. Until I learned who they were. Or at least which of my friends have “liked” the political page.
If I hadn’t gone to look, I wouldn’t know.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was advice given to me by a friend recently, regarding this. And I believe it is wise advice.
I talk about acceptance and love, and how meeting conflict with compassion is really the only way through anger and disagreement and hate.
They all seem to accept me, and I’ve made no secret of who I support.
A weakness in me is learning that people who stand for or disagree with me on things I find of utmost importance are behaving more maturely and rationally than I am, and it irks me. It flies in the face of what I expect, and challenges me to see past our differences – when in the moment all I want is to be right, and justified in my judgement. I want to shout and prove that I am the better person, who believes the Right things, who Gets It, and Understands the way of the world (and politics, and policy, and relationships….) and what they teach me is that I am still learning.
And that is why differences exist.
Differences ask us to open our hearts, when it is hardest to do so. To find love and compassion, when we least want to give and show those things. To seek to understand, instead of seek to be right. To continue to fight for what we believe is right, and realize we are all doing that.
And whoever gets the most votes next month…that is less important.
What is most important is to remember:
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