bipartisan friendship

it’s an election year and i’m already tired. tired of the name calling. tired of the “he said,” “well, he said” back and forth (how sad is it to have no she’s in that sentence?). tired of the fund raising (should electing a president really be allowed to cost this much?) and, mostly, tired of the assumptions. i’m really tired of the assumptions.
a dear friend of mine was recently sitting at a family event when some of her extended family began disparaging the political party that is not theirs. “it’s impossible to be a [fill in said party name here] and be smart. [put that name here]s are just idiots.”
little did they know that my friend is a member of said “idiot party.” while family, they had no idea of her political leanings and opinions. if they did, they would have known 1) not everyone in the party could realistically be called an idiot (my friend is one bright woman) and 2) it’s best not to make assumptions about the person sitting next to you.
we have so much to learn from the person sitting next to us. and the person who pumps our gas (i live in oregon and don’t get to pump my own). and the baker who’s been up since 3 a.m. in order that we may have a fresh loaf of bread. and the journalist who writes for “that other” publication...the one we hate. and the kid clad in headphones turning the subway sign on the corner. and the person sitting next to us in the pew, or the desk, or the bus seat, or where ever we find ourselves sitting.
when we stop trying to be right we become so much more neighborly. 
think about it: if i am certain, absolutely certain, that my take on things is the only take on things, why in the world do i need to convince you of it? wouldn’t it be more respectful, more kind, more friendly to share in a discussion or engage in an honest back and forth than to try to belittle, shame, or scare you into my way of thinking? if i’m excited and passionate about what i think, wouldn’t it be more logical to simply want to share my passion than to want to discredit yours? why do i need you to be an idiot if you disagree with me? 
i’m undertaking my own mini challenge and it is this: in these next conflictual months i am endeavoring to live in respectful graciousness with my neighbors. if my frustration rises to a boiling point, i will get myself out of the heat and cool off before i speak. if i find myself wanting to call someone else names, i will remind myself that i could easily be called the same. or worse. i will work, with everything in me, to treat you as who you are, more than a partisan party member and, instead, my friend.

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