New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Eyes that see the good in things: Oct. 7, 2019


October 7, 2019

The cooling temperatures of autumn bely the rising temperatures of the political world these days. It seems inconceivable that the political temperatures will cool any time soon, especially as we move toward another presidential election.

As the political parties seem to polarize into more extreme views, personal relationships continue to suffer. I’ve read articles this week that tell the stories of friends and family members who are no longer speaking to each other because they disagree about politics— daughters no longer speaking to parents, siblings no longer talking to each other and friends who have been “unfriended.”

I still have faith in Americans and our ability to balance politics; we’ve been able to do that for many years. There have always been disagreements in this country and there will always be people who believe things that I don’t agree with. I know that their votes can impact my life, finances, planet and the future of my grandchild. I think we all get that.

What I don’t get, is the value in severing relationships over politics. Not talking to the person who disagrees with me won’t change my mind and it won’t change their mind. It will only widen the divide between us. This is a topic that is deeply personal to me as I have family members who have political leanings as far apart on the political spectrum as they could possibly be.

We have family members who believe that the other’s political views are offensive, abhorrent, uneducated or immoral. The two sides will never find a common ground because they come from very different places and are deeply divided on the fundamental values under almost every aspect of our belief systems.

The one thing that’s sustained us is that we know the importance of our relationship. Our connection to each other is more important than our need to be right or our need to convince the other of our perspective. Most of the time, we don’t talk politics. We talk about our kids and our grandkids, we talk about our work, our hobbies, our travels. But we keep talking, because we’re family.

Honestly, sometimes it’s necessary in a family just to agree to disagree because it is simply not acceptable to say to my children or grandchildren that I no longer speak to a family member just because we disagree. I can’t live with that because it seems terrible to me.

I tell you about my family divisions because I know we are not the only family facing those issues. If you take a stand on some of the big issues, it’s likely that you have felt at odds with someone, whether it’s family, friends, co-workers or even acquaintances.

There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of strong opinions and sometimes when we are confronted with those strong opinions, we may not handle the situation well. It is very true that we have no control over other people, but we have complete control over our own behavior and reactions. How we react to any given situation gives us the ability to protect our relationships.

It can be very problematic when we go into a conversation thinking that we are right about everything. Especially if we all dig our heels in on the same issues. Not only do we alienate the people around us, but we prevent ourselves from learning.

Learning to listen is difficult as we have to commit to suppressing the knee-jerk reaction of defending your perspective and really listen to what the other person has to say, without using that time to formulate your next response. Consider why they’ve taken that stance and try to understand it. If they present facts, don’t dismiss them without research. You may just discover that it’s you who is in the wrong.

It’s hard to stay calm when someone is saying things that you find insensitive, hateful or disheartening, but you won’t help anything if you also lose your temper. If you feel like you’re about to boil over, take some deep breaths. Redirect your thoughts for a moment, remind yourself that getting angry is not worth it and will likely be something you regret. If you want to take action, there are far more productive ways to channel all of that energy.

Evaluate your situation to make sure it is not a toxic situation. It’s one thing to occasionally butt heads with others. It’s another to feel like you’re being bullied or treated unfairly because of your beliefs. We all have a right to our own opinions and the people in your life should treat you accordingly.

There are times when our values or viewpoints need to be challenged but it can be done with respect. Do not feel the need to put with a consistently volatile situation that shows no signs of improving!

It’s important to engage in self-reflection on an ongoing basis because we should always be striving for growth. Are we showing the values that we want to see in others? Are our expectations realistic? Are we willing to listen to others in a way that we would like others to listen? Before passing judgment on someone, make sure you’re not adding to the problem.

When all else fails, remember that you can always step away. It doesn’t have to be a permanent separation but, even if it’s just for a few moments, taking a breather can help preserve your sanity.

One way or another, make up an excuse to buy yourself enough time to let your blood pressure simmer down. Then, return to the conversation and change the topic.

If we try to show love and patience for each other, we have a better chance of finding a middle ground. The best way to do this is by being humble and remembering that our own beliefs and ideals may be flawed.

I would never advocate that anyone should give up or not voice their opinion, but we should also be listening to each other instead of shutting each other down. In doing so, we can learn something from every situation and interaction.

Though my family’s political beliefs are broad and diverse, we are still united on our love for this country. Yes, we will disagree. We will vote our own values, thoughtfully and with integrity and kindness. When the results come in, we will move forward as our country moves forward and I hope that, in the process, we will all still be able to find room in our hearts and lives, for those with whom we disagree.

The message that I would like for our grandchildren to take from this climate is that anger, hatred and disconnection from either side is not what leads to growth, change and healing. If they learn anything from us, I hope it’s that they have the power to be the change they wish to see in the world.

We would love to share local stories about the good things your eyes are seeing.

Stop in to share your stories with us, give us a call at 947-2417 or e-mail us at [email protected] Or send a letter to Eyes That See the Good in Things, c/o Allison Lindgren, The Transcript 6 8th St N., New Rockford, ND 58356.


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