I am seeing a lot of people ending relationships this year with family and long-time friends over disagreements in politics. Generally, but not always, such statements I have seen are authored by relatively young people who proclaim alliance with left-leaning politics and the ‘party of tolerance and inclusion.’ But not exclusively, as I have seen the phenomena on both sides of the current situation. I’ve seen people blocking or unfriending people they have known since 1970 or before; blocking close family; blocking next-door-neighbors. They call their former associates ‘toxic’ and state that they must eliminate them from their lives for the sake of their own mental health. To these, I say I am sorry to hear your mental health is in such a weak state. Ending a relationship over a disagreement in beliefs is purely selfish—an immature response.
Having said that, I will admit that I have temporarily distanced myself from a few of my contacts at times, admitting that I’m simply tired of hearing their opinions or rants. I have not permanently blocked any friend or family member—to my knowledge I have not ‘ended’ any relationships over politics.
Before you color me a troll, allow me to state that I am a life-long political conservative who believes strongly in truth (even if uncomfortable), justice, equality of opportunity, freedom of thought and speech and association, and has, to my memory, never voted a straight ticket. I have no respect for Mr. Trump and consider him unfit for his office. I did NOT vote for him in 2016 and will not vote for him in 2020.
The echo chamber of communications only with like-minded people handicaps your understanding. Association with people who disagree with you helps you to understand, clarify, and deepen your own beliefs. Without challenge or opposite insight beliefs become superficial and without depth of conviction.
How to deal with those who are avid supporters of the opposition and their positions and behaviors we strongly dislike and disagree with? I start with a quote attributed by Evelyn Beatrice Hall to Voltaire: "I wholly disagree with what you say and will contend to the death for your right to say it."
Did you ask them why they support who and what they do? When they told you did you listen? Truly listen to see if you could understand deep-seated motivations? Or was that simply too much work for you? Or did you listen to find weak points where you could destroy their argument? What happened when you voiced your beliefs and your disagreements with theirs? When you told them you supported and would vote for the opposition? Did they allow you to tell them why? Or did they banish you? Did they demonstrate their disagreement by becoming violent? Did they call you a moron or an idiot? If so, perhaps you are justified and correct in ending the relationship. If not, I then would ask you, the party ending the relationship, why does it upset you so that others disagree? Do you feel responsible for their thoughts and actions? Or do you wish to exert control and see your political aspirations succeed? Do you understand that by ending the relationship you forfeit any opportunity to influence them for good through long-suffering and example? Or do you fear that your opinion is the wrong one?
I, personally, feel strongly that our country and our freedoms that I hold dear are in jeopardy. As such, I will speak out for my beliefs and I will demand my right to do so. I will speak out against both anarchy and fascism. Remember that denying another the rights you ask for yourself is anathema to freedom and that the suppression of opposition and criticism is the very definition of fascism.
Perhaps If we could find it in our hearts to admit that our connections should not depend on controlling the other person or their beliefs, we could salvage or heal those relationships. If we could heal those relationships, perhaps we could exert, through long-suffering, patience, and love, some righteous influence. If we could exert some influence and heal personal relationships, perhaps we could heal our nation.
If I may quote a FB Project Lincoln member, Dave D’Auria from his post of August 19, 2020: “Being human is a given. But keeping our humanity is a choice… Humanity (Websters): compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior or disposition: the quality or state of being humane...”
In my opinion, ending relationships over a disagreement in politics is the counter to being humane. You are welcome to your opinion.