Can Your Relationships Last? It Depends on Your Politics, and You
It would take a library — a large library — to contain all the books and articles and videos and records available to explain the differences between Democrats and Republicans, but that is not what I want to do here. I want to explore the effects the vitriolic and deeply partisan politics we have today can have on your relationships.
Why bother? Because how we relate to each other — be it as friends, lovers, or enemies — defines the world we live in — the upfront and personal world.
I have no idea how to fix the turbulent and sometimes violent political stage of events unfolding before us every hour these days. In truth, sometimes I want to get to that veritable desert island, or live on a mountaintop far from the madding crowd, or stay inside my house where I am surrounded by familiar things I care about. The problem with that is each of those options forego relationship with other human beings in any meaningful way.
Great, you might say, and I’d understand completely! The thing is, though, human beings are social creatures. We rarely flourish alone. Our energy and creativity, our ideas and motivations, our caring and ambitions, our dreams and actualizations are more significant and meaningful when we are with other people at least some of the time. We’ve been this way since first emerging on Earth. We are all made of star stuff, of the elements of the stars, the very same ones, and so we are all connected in physical as well and emotional ways, forever.
We thrive in each other’s company when that company is filled with kindness, with creativity, with allowing, with hope, with grace.
But What If Our Political Differences Really Are Bone Deep?
Or we believe they are? What if we cannot find any common ground? What if our sense of the other person is defined for us by their politics, and not their character or soul, and the last thing we are thinking about and feeling about them is kindness and grace of being?
What then must we do?
Or are we doomed to an inevitable separateness, seeing the relationship a futile exercise, because we are each unable to reach across barriers of thought and outlook and ideology? How do we express our dismay without forcing each other to run away, or run screaming into the hills?
What does our relationship with anyone become when we believe we are no longer able to communicate peaceably, ever? When we are certain the other person is not only wrong, but evil because they are wrong, in our eyes?
Relationships Thrive or Die Because We Want It So
We and we alone are responsible for the outcome of a relationship, whether it is for the relationship to survive or to falter and die into an empty and unfulfilling end.
Because the truth of it is this: we each of us always have a choice.
A very wise man, Dr. Hew Len, who practices the ancient Hawaiian healing of Ho’oponopono, asked one question at a conference that I have never forgotten:
Do you want to be right, or do you want to be free?
He wasn’t talking about First or Second Amendment freedom — he was talking about soul-level freedom, the freedom of the spirit to meet life with the best we are and to say yes to it. We then recognize the beliefs we have let control us are not really ours, anyway — just ideas passed down to us, embedded in our culture, handed over to us generation after generation. We recognize that those beliefs, for the most part, do not serve life, but take away from it.
Freedom is letting go of the need to feel secure by holding on to rigid beliefs, especially political beliefs, that do not serve us or humankind, or any living creature.
It is a freedom of spirit that allows light into relationships instead of insisting on the dark. We stop saying we must be right, and begin to say let us find common ground together.