I want to thank those of you who have crossed the political aisle over the last year or so and come over to shake my hand and introduce yourselves and your perspective on the world in a thoughtful and reasonable way. You are appreciated. I have learned from you. Some of you have become my friends.
And for those of you who have crossed the political aisle to tell me to “shut up” and to call me a *moron*, a *whiner*, a *libtard*, and a *snowflake* – I thank you, also. You, too, have been an education for me.
A few observations: Hurling insults and personal attacks at people rarely wins them over to our way of looking at things. It usually does just the opposite, in fact. Calling people “unproductive” and “lazy” – when we know nothing about their lives or work – is unlikely to persuade them to join our “team.” Telling them that the leader of our “team” has accomplished loads of great things – and then failing to provide a list of those accomplishments, or the sources for our information – is not very persuasive, either. We can’t,just make stuff up and then call it “facts.” And “fake” news isn’t just the news we don’t happen to like.
Alrighty then. Have a great rest of your day.
“We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it,—determined not to be offended when no wrong is meant, nor even when it is…”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Years ago, when I was a teenager maybe, I remember seeing a Star Trek episode that showed a man who was half-black and half-white in a struggle with another man who was half-black and half-white – they were enemies because of their color – and I remember looking at them, thinking, “But… they’re BOTH half-black and half-white… what’s the issue here?” And at the end of the episode we finally see that the reason they’re enemies is because one of them is white on the right side of his body, and the other is white on the left side of his body, and… yeah… I remember thinking how absolutely ridiculous it all was for them to hate each other just because they were colored differently on different sides. But it is, of course, no more ridiculous than hating someone just because they’re all ONE color, and that color is different than ours.
The summer after I graduated from high school – which was about ten years after the Watts Riots – I traveled with my dad to California. Dad had grown up in Los Angeles, and he wanted to revisit his old neighborhood and see his childhood home once again. As we drove the streets to his old home, I noticed that we were the only white faces in a several-mile radius.
Dad pulled up in front of a little house, and his face lit up – “This was my home!” he said, getting out of the car. I followed him to the front door, where an African-American woman wearing a house-dress and a really surprised look on her face, appeared. Dad explained that he’d grown up in this house and asked if he could come in and take a look around and go out into the backyard where he’d played as a child. The woman smiled graciously and opened her door for us and allowed us into her home. I followed Dad through the house and out into the backyard where there was still the avocado tree he remembered from his childhood. He looked around, said it seemed smaller than he’d remembered it, and started talking about the happy years he’d spent in this yard as a child. Then he went back through the house, shook the woman’s hand, and thanked her for letting him re-visit his old home. Still looking kind of surprised to find these friendly white people traipsing through her house, she smiled back at dad, and told him he was welcome and it was no problem at all.
A block or so later Dad pulled into a gas station to fill the tank up, and a black attendant came out to help us (this was in the days before people filled up their own cars with gas). He had that same surprised look on his face as the woman in Dad’s old house. He smiled, and filled up our tank for us, and, as we were ready to leave, said in a friendly way, a big smile on his face, “Come back again!”
Every time I think of this trip through that neighborhood in Los Angeles I start grinning. I’m pretty sure we were the only white people in years who’d come nonchalantly driving through that section of Los Angeles. I remember the surprised hospitality of the gas station attendant and the woman living in Dad’s old house, and it fills me up with a kind of joy. I remember my dad – totally oblivious to the fact that he was in a part of Los Angeles that most white people might find threatening – happily traveling down “Memory Lane”, shaking hands with the woman in his old house, greeting the gas station attendant with an open, natural smile – and it makes me really proud to be his daughter.
I am, likewise, proud to be my mother’s daughter. When I was a little girl – maybe eight or so – Mom took my little brothers and me shopping at the local mall. As we were looking at clothes a young African-American family walked by, also shopping. A large middle-aged white man standing near us turned to Mom and said something like, “Those people should stay in their own part of town.” My mom looked up at him, puzzled – she didn’t know what he was talking about at first. He pointed to the African-American family and repeated what he’d said. When my mom finally understood what he was talking about her face turned red with indignation. She looked up at him from her height of 5’2″ and, her voice shaking with emotion, said, “That family has as much right to be here as you or me! We are all God’s children!” The white man realized then that he’d picked the wrong person to share his racism with, and sort of stepped back and disappeared from the store.
I’m really grateful to have been raised by parents for whom the color of peoples’ skin was a non-issue, and kindness towards everyone was considered natural and normal.
Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
speaks kindly when we meet and part.
– Mary Baker Eddy
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
When someone says something like, “All Republicans are…” or “All Democrats are…” or “All Christians are…” or “All Muslims are…” or “All Mexicans are…” or “All atheists are…” – when whole groups of people are lumped together as if they all feel, think, and believe the exactly same things just because they share the same label – that is called stereotyping. Stereotyping is a sign of bigotry. I really, really hate bigotry.
“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” – Pete Seeger
I remember on Election Day when I was a little girl my mom and dad would go off in a car together to vote. My Dad supported one political party, and my mom supported another – but they cheerfully got in the car together and went to the polls to cancel out each others’ votes. They weren’t angry with each other because they disagreed about politics. They didn’t yell at each other, call each other names, cuss each other out, or think the other person was somehow an inferior human being – lacking in intelligence, reason, logic, and good sense. Nope. They loved each other. They respected each other. Although they’ve since then become members of the same party, at that time, they totally disagreed with each other about American politics – and it was alright.
They were a wonderful example to me.
Although one of my parents was, then, a Republican, and the other was a Democrat, although one was religious, and the other not – they shared the same values. Both my parents valued honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, fair play, compassion, the beauties of Nature, and having a good sense of humor about oneself. They brought their children up to value those things, also.
Here are some useful things I learned about the exchange of ideas and opinions from watching my parents interact with each other:
– Be kind.
– Play fair.
-Laugh at your own nonsense, before you laugh at someone else’s.
-Sometimes saying you’re sorry is the most important thing you can contribute to a conversation.
-Don’t assume that a person is lacking in intelligence or reason just because he or she disagrees with you.
-I’m really grateful I grew up with the parents I did. I think it would be a marvelous thing if everyone treated each other with the same respect my parents gave to each other as they drove off to the polls on election day.
My friend, Elizabeth, has a wonderful new son-in-law named Juan. Yesterday a woman talking to Juan on the phone told him that he needed to lose his accent because that could be a problem for him now. Juan doesn’t have an accent. He was born in the USA. All the woman knew about Juan, really, was that he had a Spanish name. Elizabeth had a chance to meet the woman when she came to her house later. Elizabeth let the woman know that they like Juan just as he is and there’s nothing at all he needs to change about himself. Elizabeth’s family uses the “safety pin” for each other – “We need to bring out a safety pin for… ” – to show support for each other and listen to each other.
By the way, my friend, Elizabeth, is a Republican and voted for Donald Trump. We do not agree on politics, but we share the same feelings about bigotry and hatred, and I’m really glad to know her.
She gave me permission to share this story.
“The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart.”
– Mary Baker Eddy