Politics and Our Relationships
There have always been those who are passionate about their political candidate and those who would never waiver from their party lines, but it seems that not since the U.S. Civil War and the “flower power” generation has there been so much passion in politics. In the last couple of decades, emotions have really ramped up. Even people who were once completely uninterested in politics now have something to say on the subject.
Imagine being berated simply for wearing a hat, a t-shirt or having a bumper sticker. There have been incidents of cars being keyed, people being physically and verbally attacked on planes and in public places, and false accusations thrown about regarding people's stands. Whichever side we are on we surely understand that not everyone holds all things to be true. So why do we have the need to be so accusatory? And while people attack each other they also complain about people not being loving and tolerant enough. It all has become very skewed.
In the days of the Civil War, the states were broken into sides. It was brother against brother with both sides vying for their own president. We are not at war right now, but we are in a battle. Protests, riots, parades, and lawsuits have become daily news. Each political side has strong opinions on what should be done in the country and there seems to be little middle ground. While having strong opinions can be a good thing and create change, it quickly turns bad when those opinions spill over into our relationships.
What originally was a discussion in times past has now often turned into a yelling match. It seems people have no tolerance for a difference of opinion. Yelling matches in recent years have also turned into fisticuffs and sometimes all-out brawls. And while those experiences are bad enough, there are even more widespread issues of abuse using words. The old saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword” is apropos, only instead of the word “pen” insert words like "computer," "phone," or "tablet."
It has become an all-out war of words that goes nowhere and usually aims to discredit or demean someone else.
Social media and comments sections on articles and forums have become almost intolerable to read. There are few who combat someone’s opinion with facts or sensible debate. Nowadays, people cannot state an opinion without being completely berated for having it. The words used have little purpose, but to bully. People are quick to call someone a sheep, a snowflake, a libtard, and other things I refuse to mention. It has become almost impossible to have a real conversation anymore.
TV is not much better. It seems anyone with a title thinks their opinion needs to be heard and they are not afraid to name-call. It has become an all-out war of words that go nowhere and usually aims to discredit or demean someone else. According to the Pew Research Center, “The nature of the country’s political divisions is a rare point of partisan agreement: Comparable majorities of Democrats and Democratic leaners (88%) and Republicans and Republican leaners (84%) say the country is more divided these days than in the past.” The worst part is that the division is not always based on fact. Jane and John Doe, who only get their information from TV or social media, usually just carry on with whatever rhetoric they have heard or want to believe to be true. It’s also easy to lash out when we don’t know a person, but what about when it’s closer to home?
Social media and comments sections on articles and forums have become almost intolerable to read.
Concern Over Relationships
It’s one thing when someone we don’t know attacks us, but what about when it’s your best friend, your brother, or your co-worker? When a movie star ticks us off we can stop watching their programs, when a singer does, we don’t have to listen to their music. When your co-worker says something about politics you don’t like, that can be the beginning of the end for a social relationship. When it doesn’t turn into an argument, it often turns into shaming or shunning.
Maybe you have had a similar experience yourself. You start off having a normal chat when suddenly the other person turns the conversation into a political rant. Maybe you were stunned, maybe you lashed out against the rant, or maybe you played nice and walked away. But if you have opposite views does it change the relationship? Does it keep you from wanting to be around them? This is the dilemma many face every day. Too often, politics create a divide between friendships and families.
It's an even more severe relationship deal-breaker when a friend or family member feels so strongly about their political position that they can no longer keep it out of their relationships. It becomes entwined into every part of who they are and they seem unable to stop themselves from spewing about it at every turn. The individual begins to analyze everything another person says and does and they weave it into their political scenario and attack. This is a sure way to destroy relationships.
The best way to preserve our relationships is to separate the person from the belief. He or she is not just a Democrat, Republican, or the essence of any other political party. That is merely what they believe and thoughts never hurt anyone, but our actions and words do. Putting them “on hold” does not solve anything either. It only strains the bond. If you feel strongly about something, have a conversation, but leave the taunts and jabs at home and hold onto your relationships.
© 2018 Lorelei Nettles