Some call it Fall. Others think about getting ready for Halloween. There may even be a few who recognize that soon the beginning of November will be here, marking All Saints Day as we remember those who have passed since the last time we celebrated this day. It’s a bittersweet day of recollection. Bitter because there is a loss and finality that does not get a second chance at life. Sweet because in the loss is a deep and abiding love that is worth returning to fully.
This time of year is also the season of political campaigns.
Normally, it would not get even a mention. The other items listed above are much more noteworthy. I will spend more time admiring the changing seasons and my fair share of days in the Patch. My heart will be with those we’ve lost and those who have lost loved ones. I am troubled, though, by a growing crisis that affects our community.
“Meaningful conversation? We can’t even talk about our differences anymore.” I have heard this comment — or ones just like it — from many in our community. The political campaigns raise the temperature, splitting families and friends who at one time could appreciate one another and the differences we shared. It’s affected our church. It’s affected my family. How did we get to the place where we are afraid to even talk?
I’d like to suggest a few approaches we may try to take to move through the minefields:
Get your priorities straight. Love first. Even when you disagree on closely held positions that define you, dismissing or rejecting another person solves nothing. Choose to love that person and resolve yourself to not allow anything to get in the way of that love. You and the other person will be the better for it.
Move from Position to Interest. Our current political environment pushes us to take a position. The certitude that comes with taking a position is satisfying. The problem is that our heels don’t heal. Once our heels are dug into a position, we stop asking questions, we stop thinking, and we stop caring about others. Try holding your position a little less tightly.
Revisit your Interest in the Position you have taken. Your interests include the reasons, ideas, convictions, and personal benefits that have led you to the position you’ve taken. How and why did you get to that position?
Understand the Interests of the other. People are quick to state their position, but be in a position to explore the other person’s interest behind their position. Knowing your interests will help you understand the interests of the other person. You will grow in your understanding of what separates you on this particular subject.
Love the person even if you can’t stand the position. Empathize with their interest. Help them to empathize with your own without expecting them to change their position.
If these five points help in anyway, YEAH!!!! You will survive this season. If you find yourself getting lost in the politics, return to enjoying Fall, Halloween, and the other celebrations that will put the rest of it into perspective.