"A person may not always understand another person's political beliefs; but what they will always understand is kindness." JT Price
Last night I was thinking how fortunate I am to have such a diverse variety of friends, ranging in age from 20 to 92 years old. Some are devout people of faith, some are atheists, some are Republicans, others Democrats, some are fervent Trump supporters, others are just as fervently opposed. Some of my friends - from both sides - have posted things on Facebook that make me cringe, but what keeps me from jumping the tracks and posting something contrary and what I know would be equally cringe-worthy to them, is that I know these people - some for more than 50 years - and they are good people, all. Different beliefs, different life experiences, different ideas on how to help this country and this world, but good people all. If they weren't, they wouldn't be my friends. And we remain friends not because we avoid talking about political, social, or religious topics; we talk about these things with Civil Discourse - which does not simply mean discussing issues politely and with respect, but "engaging in conversation intended to enhance understanding." For me, it has never been enough to know what a friend believes - especially when they believe differently from me. I want to know why my friends believe what they believe. What do they fear? What do they love? What do they hope for? What brought them to their conclusions? They are my friends, after all. Why wouldn't I want to know what made them who they are?
Which brings me to where we all are, right now. During this turbulent, uncertain time, I believe all of us - regardless of what "side" we are on - can be peacemakers by going right up the middle, by understanding that We The People are good people by nature; we are not each other's enemy; and we can be diverse and one simultaneously. The only enemies are the people and things that would turn us against each other, to make us suspicious, fearful, and perpetually angry with each other, instead of working together to make all of our lives better.
And we can begin by understanding that true leadership comes not from those who exploit our fears and prejudices and incites us to savage each other, verbally or physically, but from those who inspire us to service.
So let's try this. Go to the corner store. Buy a 99 cent plant, and leave it on the front porch of a friend or neighbor who might feel estranged from you because of differing political beliefs. Or sweep the pine needles from their sidewalk. Or wash their car. Something small, something simple, something to let them know that - no matter what they believe - you care about them. Let me know how it goes.