Friday, June 30, 2017

Bless Their Heart...

Carrie Lacey asked a hard hitting question about politics and trying to be friends with someone that has opposing views.

Deep breaths...

Well Carrie, politics is a touchy subject that when touched upon often leads to more painful touching. So where to start? Firstly, there is only one person in the entire world you (and any other person in the entire world) can control. That person is you. Even if one has children, one cannot control them. Oh, one can control the child's actions to some extent, but even that control is an illusion. Think of siblings who have had the very same upbringing yet grow into completely opposite adults and their parents wondering, "what the hell!? I know we taught him better than that!"

That being said, wouldn't the world be very boring if we all thought the same way about everything? It would be very sad, truly because in all things there are different perspectives. One person could not possibly conceive of all the ins, outs and intricacies of life.

I have a dear friend whose only area of commonality was that our children were in kindergarten together, but I wanted to be her friend. We don't share religious views, we have different lifestyles and we couldn't be more different, but I love her. Not her religious views, not her lifestyle, not her politics, her. And because she didn't see things exactly the way I did, my views expanded. It didn't change the way I believed, but I saw her value.

The problem with politics, I think, is two fold. The first being is it is difficult to understand where another person is coming from when we don't have the same life experiences. If one person grows up in a two parent household, it is difficult for the person who's parents are still together to really understand certain concerns.

For example: Mr. D's parents have been married for over forty years. To each other. My parents separated when I was 11 and divorced when I was 13. Even my mother's second marriage was a debacle. So when Mr. D and I hit fourteen years some time back, I was a mess the entire year. Even though we were no where near the dire straits of my parents (remember they were separated for two years before) it still was the place where my parents fell apart. This is the conversation I had with Mr. D as that anniversary rolled around.

Me: "Babe, I want you to know that even though we are not my parents, I may be a little sensitive for a bit. It has nothing to do with you, it's all in my head, but I thought you should know."

Him: "But we're nothing like your parents."

Me: "I'm pretty sure I just said that."

Him: "Well just don't think that way."

Me: "Well gosh, why didn't I think of that?"

Him: "What can I do to help?"

Me: "Just be who you are. It's something I have to work through."

Him: "I don't understand."

Me: "I gathered."

The point is from where we stand things seem pretty straight forward and logical, but the other person feels the same way about their point of view. We don't hand out questionnaires when we embark on friendships. We generally strike up with people with similar (read not exact) interests, but it's our differences that keep things interesting.

The second problem lies in how we deal with those differences. It is the lions share of the problem because we as a people have forgotten how to discuss our differences like adults. Instead we start calling names and questioning intelligence like we never left high school. I can promise you, no one who has been told they are dumber than a sack of hammers has EVER stopped and said, "you know what? You're right, I am dumber than a sack of hammers. I see things in a whole new light. Thank you, thank you, for saving me from my incredible incompetence and clearly misguided notions."

Never happens.

For example, I was once asked out by a boy who I worked with. We talked a bit and generally enjoyed these conversations. So imagine my disgust when he, having just asked me out, turned and walked away when he learned I was Mormon. I'm Mormon, not a Nazi war criminal, but his entire view changed. Everything he liked about me disappeared and all he could see was what he felt was an unacceptable (religious) belief. We didn't have to get married, but to go from friends to strangers in a matter of minutes was kinda rude. The best way to be friends with persons whose political views are different than yours is to remember the things you love about them.

If two opposing views can be respectfully discussed, by all means, proceed. If one of you decides to roll in the mud, bless their heart and change the subject because when you roll with pigs you get dirty too. For example:

Bless his (ignorant heart), he couldn't find his way out of a wet paper bag with a map and a compass.

Bless her (melodramatic) heart. It's so hard when she isn't the center of attention.

Bless his (downer) heart. He got peanut butter and jelly in his lunch again.

Bless her (willfully stupid) heart. She still thinks the world is flat.

One invokes blessing of hearts when one has encountered a confounding situation. It can be used when dealing with the ignorant, the drama queen (a gender-less behavior), the downer and yes, the willfully stupid.

The Bless your/his/her/their heart works like this: the Blesser presses her lips together as she remembers her commitment to stay out of the aforementioned mud and verbally or mentally blesses the blessee.

Here's where it gets tricky. If the person who's heart you are blessing is from the south, do not, I repeat DO NOT bless their heart out loud. And whatever you do, remember allowing yourself to be pulled into pointless debates only ruins your day. Some people can't understand, some people don't understand and some people won't understand.

If you (the reader) are the bringer of contention, shame on you. I thought I taught you better than that.

So when we are friends with people who have different political views (or any opposing views, really) than our own, does it mean we have to agree with those views? Not remotely, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. Novel concept, I know, but it's amazing when put into practice. And all arguments absolutely require a minimum of two people.

One more point: blanket statements are my pet peeve. They are completely inaccurate, but are constantly draped over anyone the blanketer disagrees with. STOP IT! Nobody ever "always" or "nevers".

Hope this helps.

No comments: