When Political Issues Divide Us

A person in my family will not entertain any conversation about Donald Trump and they have made it clear how they despise even the mention of his name. They, “Can’t stand him.”

This person has not observed any good in Trump. They have not conceded that he has done good for America on any level. Their mind is completely closed.

There is no point in talking to someone of this persuasion as they are not open to any possible insights. We continue to love one another, and do not allow this to cause dissension in our family. We simply don’t go there. There are plenty of other things to talk about.

In other words, we show mutual respect for difference of opinion. Although they know others don’t see things their way, they too are tolerant of differences, if not of discussion.

Mask wearing is another area where our family members’ opinions differ. There is a little more tolerance for discussion with these members so we have talked about the subject. But, once again, there is a line we don’t want to cross. We don’t want to allow a difference of viewpoint to destroy our relationship, so we let the subject drop before it does that. We stop trying to persuade.

Trump is not all bad. He has made some positive changes in America. Masks provide some protection, depending on the material and construction. A challenging exercise is trying to hold two opposing views at the same time, balancing them against each other.

Another topic of dissension is religion. Religion is not all bad. Jewish law teaches us not to lie, steal, kill and commit adultery. Christ taught us what is considered as the Golden Rule, to love our neighbours as ourselves. Members of our family are not accepting of the religion of others, but they still continue to love one another.

When we love others we give them a lot of room. We have to allow them to make mistakes, to be wrong. We might try to help them, but even with good intentions, we will not always do the right thing. It takes humility to admit this.

Love genuinely wants the best for the other person. Unfortunately, there are a few among us who care little about others, but even in these cases, we must be careful not to jump to conclusions. I recently came across this, “Do not assume malice when ignorance could explain the situation.”

Some people shut you out when your views differ from theirs. You become the detestable “other.” I favor Christianity because it does not leave room for this attitude. In fact, it teaches people to “love your enemies” and to “pray for those who persecute you.”

I had a vision this week. I saw the love of God encompassing the world. I can’t really explain it. It was like giant arms, like a cloud, or a vapor, encompassing the earth. I was in prayer and I asked God if he wasn’t angry with the world and all the evil in it. In the Bible I read that God is often angry with the wicked, so I wanted to know. The vision zoomed in to those individual, private moments when people are most vulnerable and I was impressed with the thought that this is what God sees. This is what he does not forget, even when evil tries to obscure it. He looks beyond. This is who he loves.

We need to be a little more like God, loving beyond those things that annoy us. Loving beyond our differences.

We can allow evil to tear us apart or we can choose to love.

There are evil forces at work seeking to destroy what is precious and what is truly precious is our relationships. We must watch that our views do not become the most important thing. What matters is the other person, their needs, their dreams and desires. We can love, even with differences. But it may take some help from the example of Christ, who laid down his life, rather than persisting against resistance. At this special Christmas season, let’s remember, “For God so loved the world….”

I think the source of tolerance is the family. It is where we learn to care deeply. It is where we learn to be tolerant of differences. It is where we learn it is safe to make mistakes and where we learn to forgive. It is so important to guard these early relationships that will follow us all of our lives.

Why I Left Facebook at the End of the Year

Each of my WordPress followers pressed the “follow” button for a slightly different reason. When I follow someone it is because I have found their writing interesting or motivating in some way and I want to keep track of them and be able to read more of their content. When I think that this is the reason someone follows me, I feel strangely moved. There are days when writers need to be reminded that someone really does care and wants us to write more and will be looking for our content.

I had a very meaningful time on Facebook for many years. It was a place where I felt I could go to be encouraged. People on Facebook cared. And I cared about them. I tried to post encouraging comments. I “liked” numerous posts. And my friends were very responsive and kind.

I have moved a number of times and Facebook became the place to keep in touch with people I no longer saw in person. I considered myself to be very blessed with my group of friends. Oh, it was an odd mix, but I loved it. A few friends didn’t agree with my political leanings and challenged me from time to time and I enjoyed the fact that they expressed alternate views. I reexamined my points of view. It forced me to look at what I believed from a different perspective.

My tendency was to share links to relevant news and often I added a paragraph of commentary. Many of my friends frequently expressed their appreciation for this as I pulled up pieces that weren’t commonly seen by everyone. However, I began to notice that I was no longer getting responses to my posts. I decided to do a survey of my friends and discovered that my closest friends were not seeing my posts. I began to suspect that Facebook did not like what I was posting and was reducing my distribution. When I mentioned this to my husband he thought I was making it up, so I kept watching and eventually I got the confirmation from Facebook itself. According to them I was posting false news. One piece of “false news” was a link to a letter that 500 scientists sent to the United Nations, claiming that climate change science is complex and we do not know the exact correlation between human activity and climate change. I was told by Facebook that if I continued to post this type of “false news” I would see my “overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways.” But they had already done this to me for a year or longer.

If you say anything that questions the current politically correct dialogue–and I tend to do this–then you are labelled as a false prophet, in other words. There are names the politically correct side has for you. These are conversations you are not allowed to have. I am not even talking about whether, or how much, climate change is impacted by human activity. I just want to give both sides the opportunity to speak. But today we are in a society where this kind of dialogue is no longer allowed–not even on Facebook–and Facebook is going to enforce this. It is not only Facebook, however. When I went back to the original site on Google where I obtained the article, it was blocked.

I never considered myself as a threat before, but apparently I am a threat to Facebook. One day Facebook stopped me from posting a link to an article written by a doctor about how doctors suffer as a result of not being able to be open about their struggles. It looked like a harmless article to me but I received a pop-up that said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other persons on Facebook have reported as abusive. You can find it at this site. It is entitled The Conspiracy of Silence (World Mental Health Day).

In a way, Facebook ultimately succeeded in silencing me completely because I left Facebook. But I was silenced on Facebook for a long time before that. After a decade or so on Facebook I know my friends and it is not normal for me to have ten posts that have no response at all from any readers. And this happened again and again. Several times I did a survey and the result was the same. My friends had not seen my posts. They had no idea what I had been posting during the week.

Some person or algorithm did not like me so it silenced me, and very effectively. I finally became weary of it and I went off of Facebook.

But I do not believe we ought to be silent. The article I tried unsuccessfully to post, that was written by the doctor, contained this quote, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” – Elie Wiesel. We cannot remain indifferent. We need to find creative and effective ways of expressing our views, while practicing patience and tolerance with those who oppose us.

I think it is extremely saddening that a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, and friend has to leave behind all of her dear contacts because the mail carrier reads her mail and deems it not fit for distribution.