No matter how passionate we are, we need to keep talking. No matter how loudly the speech or how colorful the words, we need to listen. No matter the differences, we need the conversation. It is not about winning the debate. It is about having the debate. The respect of conversation. The dignity of patient dialogue. The appreciation of the diversity of belief. Talk long enough and you’ll find common ground. Find common ground and you’ll discover trust. Find trust and you’ll have a friend. And while friends are hard to come by, they are precious.
Some of my dearest friends disagree with me on most everything, but our common ground is solid. Our love for our family. Our fundamental belief in doing and being good. Our appreciation for the life experience that made each of us who we are – and the respect that not all of it was easy. While we are each misguided, we are each well-intended. While we each may come to a seemingly idiotic conclusion, we were thoughtful in our approach to becoming so totally lost and out of touch. While we each are stubborn and dense – at times outlandishly stupid – we are or were once good enough to be loved by our mothers. And while they often sound selfish or controlling or arrogant or incomprehensibly self-deceived or just puppeting spin, I recognize that they probably hear me that way, as well, and, yet, we are both honest, hard-working and our lives are guided by our beliefs and moral values.
They may hate my politics, but we can laugh together at a good joke. They may hate my hair like I hate their guns, but I know deep, way deep, really really deep down, there is something redeeming about them and it is worth trying to understand and love. They may hate that I can make them mad as hell, but they know they can make me mad, too, and that we’ll get beyond it. And what provokes thought, often evokes understanding. They might prefer I have a different color skin or different color eyes or different sounding last name or go to a different place to worship if I did, but they also know that if I were just like them or they were just like me, we’d be bored to death. That, and talking to yourself is crazy.
As my then three year old grandson once said to me during a tense moment, “it’s just game.”