By Jamie Neben
There’s nothing like politics to screw up a perfectly good friendship.
After all, it’s long been considered as one of those topics we’re supposed to avoid, and this year, especially, I can hardly blame people for doing just that. While negativity has been a hallmark of every election cycle since our nation’s infancy, there has been a growing ugliness in recent years that’s contributed to a campaign season like we’ve never seen before. If that’s not enough, add two very polarizing candidates to the mix and, well, you’ve seen the results.
More anger. More fear. More disgust. More hate.
Adjectives such as crooked, corrupt, nasty, deplorable, irredeemable, and other divisive terms are so embedded in the national dialogue that it’s no wonder they’ve created a hostile environment. I can’t even fathom how many arguments have taken place in 2016, either face-to face or on social media, but I know a fair number of people who have been “unfriended” from both (even turning family members against each other in some cases). I’m sure we’ve all seen or heard comments along the lines of “If you support (Candidate X), I don’t want to know you anymore.”
Please excuse me if I find that to be a little harsh.
Why is it necessary to denigrate somebody just because they believe another candidate is better suited to lead our country? Why should checking one name at the ballot box invalidate a potentially long-lasting relationship? Don’t get me wrong – I know the stakes are high with Supreme Court vacancies, national security, and so forth (although that seems to be the case in every election). My point is, well-intentioned, law-abiding people, and let’s assume that’s who we’re talking about here, aren’t affiliated with only one party.
Take A.C. Smith, for example. He and I founded Waves of Gray as a result of our many disagreements. Despite our differences of opinion, I recognize him as a living example of kindness. By all accounts, he is a good man. As much as I don’t understand him, my life is better with him in it. (Please don’t tell him I said that!)
It might take our society a good while to cleanse ourselves of this past year, let alone what the future might hold, with the bathwater being so dirty. But I urge you not to throw out the babies, those being all of the personal connections made over time, whether they are close or distant. Friends add value to our lives in many ways. Some come running to lend a helping hand and others simply like our Facebook posts. They teach us things, listen to us, make us smile, give us brutally honest advice, and the list goes on. No politician can independently enable or prevent this type of human interaction, so don’t you let them.
That means whatever happens on November 8th (and in this next Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, for that matter), I’m still your friend.
Ain’t it good to know?