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Will a New President Help Us Mend Our Relationships?

The next few weeks and months will test the humanity of both winners and losers. We can only hope and pray that humanity will win out.
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November 6, 2020
Photo by wild pixel/Getty Images

Regardless of which side of the political fence you’re on, we can all agree that politics has damaged relationships.

Everyone’s got a story. Earlier this week, Reuters ran a story titled, “’You are no longer my mother’: A divided America will struggle to heal after Trump era.”

The story led with lifelong Democrat Mayra Gomez, who told her 21-year-old son five months ago that she would vote for Donald Trump. According to Gomez, he then responded: “You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump.”

She thinks “their last conversation was so bitter that she is not sure they can reconcile, even if Trump loses his re-election bid.”

That is an extreme case that dramatizes an all too common aspect of modern life– allowing the news to poison relationships.

When I am in complete disagreement with a friend over a political issue, I ask myself: How much is this relationship worth to me?

When I am in complete disagreement with a friend over a political issue, I ask myself: How much is this relationship worth to me?

Ten times out of ten, I will conclude that the relationship is worth more than our disagreement. Indeed, if I allowed our disagreement to damage the friendship, what would that say about the friendship? I’d be, in effect, spitting on it: “I know we’ve been close for so long, but hey, your political views are just too much for me. Sorry.”

Such reactions are so dangerous because they turn us into heartless robots at the mercy of exterior factors. If there’s one thing we’ve relearned during this pandemic year, it is the value of essential things. What is more essential to human beings than having deep and meaningful relationships? How could something as cold as politics trump that?

For most people, the obvious solution is to hang out only with like-minded people, staying away from anyone who doesn’t share their worldviews. That’s fine as far as it goes, but if it means staying away from (former) friends or never engaging with those with different viewpoints, what kind of communities would that create? Smug bubbles of like-minded folks?

If we don’t have the courage to engage politely with those with whom we disagree and if we don’t have the curiosity to listen to other worldviews, how does that make us better human beings? How does that repair the world?

If we don’t have the courage to engage politely with those with whom we disagree… how does that make us better human beings? How does that repair the world?

With a new president likely to enter the White House in January, it will be fascinating to see whether our divisions will mend or deepen. Will the winning side double down on its smugness? Will the losing side double down on its anger? Will the anticipated chaos make both sides dig in?

How will Mayra Gomez’s son react if the man he hates loses and his man Joe Biden wins? By getting what he wants, will that make him more forgiving or will it remind him of how “wrong” his mother was?

The next few weeks and months will test the humanity of both winners and losers. We can only hope and pray that humanity will win out.

Shabbat shalom.

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