Earlier this year I wrote about how to deal with people that you love and disagree with politically.
That’s what I thought I was doing: dealing.
During the summer I advocated for Catholic Social Teachings in the political sphere. As the only non-practicing Catholic in my family, it baffled me that only my political views aligned with those that my Catholic organization was striving towards. It’s not that my family was voting for anti-Catholic values, but they saw the same values playing out in different ways. While their position to defend the sanctity of life was in opposing abortion, mine was heavily focused on immigration and viewing people beyond citizenship. We had the same basic values, but how we wanted them actualized was different.
I didn’t get it. I thought Catholics disagreeing with me were not true to their Catholic identity because I always saw Catholicism as black and white. My decision to leave the Church was primarily because of theological teachings that actualized in ways I disagreed with in the social sphere. While I still stand by my decision to be in disagreement with the Church on certain issues, it’s important to remember that there are various ways of understanding Catholic teaching. Even St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas didn’t agree on things.
Regardless, at the time it was confusing to me how some of the only teachings that I could align myself with were contrary to what others identifying with the faith claimed. Perhaps because I finally felt like I could identify as Catholic, I was excited to share this with my parents again. I was so excited to rally for universal healthcare. Yes! Let’s help people have equal care!
The conversation didn’t go like that. While my parents love all people, they explained to me that my ideas were ideals. The way they saw my ideas playing out would hurt other people in various ways.
While I still maintain my own opinions and advocate for such, I understand the problems that face my ideas.
As someone that thoroughly enjoys academic disagreements and formal debates, I know that you can only have a strong argument if you understand your ‘opponent.’ That’s in debate. The difference here is that my parents, and other people that disagree with me are not enemies. We are one human race that is working towards happiness, whatever that means to people.
I learned to love people deeply from my parents. Ironically, we often get in arguments about the best way to love others. Disagreements are healthy and develop ideas. We should disagree, but we should also find common ground.
As a democrat that works towards many social issues, one of them being climate change, I was devastated with the 2016 presidential election results. Because the incoming president is a climate change denier, I think I have the right to be. But this is not about who is the right president. This is about how we interact with one another. Leaving Washington, D.C. to visit a very red county for the weekend immediately following the election was daunting for me. In a time that I see my future aspirations growing increasingly difficult, the last thing I wanted to do was surround myself with people that didn’t align their values in the same way I did.
I longed to be able to say that I was going home to find comfort with my parents. I wished they could see things the way I could.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Conversations with those that disagree from us can be uncomfortable, and even enraging, especially when we care deeply about the subject. This isn’t about being comfortable. As a country, we don’t have to agree that we’re making “America great again.” But we do have to strive for greatness.
I wanted my parents to comfort me. Instead, they offered me an alternative perspective that gave me understanding and helped me to love and accept.
There is a lot of hatred in our nation right now. There was going to be hard feelings regardless of the outcome. In response to politics, particularly the election, someone noted that he saw many people ‘talking past one another,’ and not hearing the other’s thoughts. I know I have been guilty of this.
I’m so thankful that my parents don’t think the same way that I do because I have grown up loving them and respecting them. Because I want to respect them I often force myself to listen to their opinions I disagree with. I’m glad I do because I need to. You do too. Listen to people that don’t agree with you. Don’t argue. Listen. Talk to people that don’t agree with you and understand. Once you understand, work on solutions together.
I am extremely disappointed in this election for a host of reasons, but that does not change the result. I know the organizations I love and support are going to have to double efforts to protect the environment, immigrants, and peace agreements. I don’t plan on overthrowing the president to get my way. I plan on talking to people, hoping that they see it my way, or that I can at least appreciate their way better, and create a plan that helps us both. All Americans have the right to pursue happiness, and that can only be accomplished together.
An organization I love (To Write Love on Her Arms) has the motto “Love is the Movement.” Love is my movement. Please walk with me so that we can become great together.