Picture this. You enter a room absent of windows with only one candle burning in the middle of a marble-finished table surrounded by five elegant chairs. The door clicks behind you and vanishes, leaving you seemingly alone in this dim space. You pull out the chair at the head of the table. The four others surround the sides of the glossy table, two on one side and two on the other. The floor creaks as you plop into the chair and when you look up, there are four other figures filling the empty seats. Cloaked in red, the figures examine you head-to-toe, their gaze flickering at your baby blue hoodie, blue jeans, and neon blue Converse. They are judging you based on these choices already. The colors that you wear already, in their minds, define your deepest beliefs and values associated with the future of the country. You come to the realization in that moment that their red attire holds value for them just as the blue holds for you. It becomes the elephant in the infinitely ominous room and you realize that there is no way out, no going back.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
Now realize this. Traditionally, the younger generation falls more liberal on the spectrum and generally, the older citizens lean more toward the right. This causes an obvious split in the family dynamic in regards to politics. As you can imagine, this split happened when I came home and announced that I had registered to vote. As a democrat. Mind you, my parents are both well-versed yet fluid in their opinions and have always supported my unique values.
However, dinner discussions became heated quickly and I felt as though I was backed into a room with no windows or doors, with no escape. Coming home from school, I would be updated on Trump's new breakthroughs in the campaign or whatnot and I was always prepared with retaliation in the form of his flaws or Hillary's successes. I fully believed that being on the offense was the solution to my feelings of being attacked. Soon, the upcoming election outgrew the dinner table and moved to other places in the house. I came home one day to a magazine page depicting Hillary's face graffitied with devil horns and a tail complete with a pitchfork. The artist? My younger brother.
Approximately a week later, my dad joined the NRA and made it extremely well-known. Now, the conversation had shifted from candidate to issue. However, the bantering and constant debating continued. At least now, I felt that the countless conversations held substance and benefitted me in my education toward the subject. I viewed these moments differently, with less hate and more perspective.
Slowly, I began to realize that sometimes, a lot of the time, there is no changing another person's viewpoint, especially those who are passionate about a subject. Growing up in a family where my views differ from my parents used to be a hassle but moving forward, there are positive repercussions to be had. We don't always see eye-to-eye and I've come to realize that it's okay. Conflict is not negative and compromise is not always to be had. The biggest part of this journey was to remove the personal attacks and focus on the facts.
I no longer feel as if the room as no windows. The dimly-lit space now has two windows and a door. One window for each of our opinions and a door to walk through after the discussion because, at the end of the day, we're still family. I am now able to look at these family debates as though I'm standing in their red shoes and understand that sometimes, you can make purple.