We had been having a conversation about politics, something my mom and I rarely talk about. Who am I kidding? My mom and I never talk about politics, because … well. we have more important things to talk about.
But on that particular day, I had been sharing the posts on my Facebook wall with her, and it wasn’t long before the funny memes, inspirational sayings, and photos of cute dogs and cats gave way to vile, offensive, and angry political rhetoric. And it wasn’t long before my sharp-as-a-tack, 93-year-old mom pointed out that some of my normally calm and rational friends were posting less than happy responses to some of the posts we were reading.
While I really don’t do politics, during this past election period, I paid attention. I also let my feelings known on social media, although I tried with all my heart to do so respectfully. As a trained journalist — otherwise known as a fake news liar, truth hater, left-wing communist pig who deserves to go back to Cuba where she came from and not insult the real Cubans who came to this country to embrace freedom — I read everything from the New York Times to right-wing extremist blogs. The founder of one particular publication I read believes he will one day guide all deserving earthly beings back to a higher spiritual planet where Democrats (or Demon-rats as non-Republicans are “affectionately” known these days) don’t exist.
(I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. Friends actually sent me articles from that publication to counter the articles I sent them from The Times and other sources they claimed were fake news meant to distribute Chinese and Russian propaganda.)
“When all of this is over, the politicians who are now enemies will be embracing each other,” mom said as she carefully perused the posts from people whose names she recognized … some who know her so well, they refer to her as mom. “Politics is not worth the loss of friendship,” she said.
Case in point: Ted Cruz, one of former President Donald Trump’s fiercest supporters, who as of this writing is facing backlash for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, defiling of the U.S. Capitol.
In 2016, Cruz had this to say about then candidate Trump, against whom he was running.
“This man is a pathological liar, he doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies … in a pattern that is straight out of a psychology textbook, he accuses everyone of lying,” Cruz said. “Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute he believes it … the man is utterly amoral. Donald is a bully … bullies don’t come from strength; they come from weakness.”
In 2020, however, a bearded defiant Cruz (who bears a striking resemblance to a young Fidel Castro) was ready to defend Trump to the death.
What About Us, My Friends?
To all of you with whom I have not seen eye-to-eye politically during the past few months, let me reassure you that it has not affected my feelings for you. Because as my mom says — and Ted Cruz’s example reminds us — tomorrow the politicians will be all lovey dovey, and those of us mere mortals who have disagreed with each other, will be left with nothing but the memories of love lost over pettiness.
While my love for you is intact, your opinions shone a light on your passions and your way of thinking. They may have provoked an occasional, “WTF led you to that conclusion, you blind-as-a-bat , naively ignorant turd?” But as for my love for you, it may have been challenged, but it hasn’t gone away.
If you feel differently, then so be it. Rest assured that the very essence of who I am, the me you had come to love, remains the same. I simply spoke up and disagreed with you — perhaps for the first time — but friends are allowed to do that.
My silence in response to your anger and point of view is not apathy. Neither is it an agreement with everything you believe. It is simply an acknowledgement that the most productive way to “argue” is to say something productive. But if while I’m attempting to share with you my side of the story, you raise your voice and insist on defending your argument by belittling mine, it’s clear that you have already made up your mind, and you are not listening.
If your goal is to convince me that you’re right, and indoctrinate me into your way of thinking, the bully method won’t accomplish that. And if you use an agreement meter to measure friendship, let’s see how many of the people you now call friends because they agree with you will be there when you don’t agree with them.
If my mom is right, Cruz and Trump are probably together on the golf course right now, while friends who were torn apart by opposing political views are left with the sadness and emptiness of knowing that perhaps whatever it was that tore them apart won’t matter as much as the memories they had created together.
We all want the same thing. To be loved, to be recognized, to be validated. Our paths may sometimes diverge, but our destination remains the same.
So while we’re all waiting for Hugo Chavez to rise from the dead and lead us onto the food lines controlled by Communist China, while Marxist manifesto-inspired leaflets dripping with socialist ideologies rain down from MiGs flying overhead, ask yourself this:
As you lie on your deathbed, what memory do you want as your guide to eternal peace? The satisfaction of knowing you were “right” even though you lost friends you never really convinced? Or the knowledge that despite conflicting beliefs — or perhaps because of them — you take with you the only thing worth taking … their love?
Mom and I did not vote for the same candidate last November, but Mom is always right, even when we disagree.