Since my Twitter rant turned into a somewhat thoughtful blog post, I decided to do the same for a Facebook rant . I think this one is still pretty ranty so take it for what it’s worth. Mostly, let’s be kind to everyone.
Perhaps I am the last person in the world who hasn’t unfriended or unfollowed everyone with whom they disagree politically or religiously. To you, this post will seem a bit outdated and naive and maybe even dangerous as I haven’t written everyone on the other side off as immoral and unethical.
Forgive me. Despite the political and religious divide in the world, I have attempted to maintain friendships with folks from the whole spectrum. And, while I don’t share overt political posts or rants on social media, I suspect my own politics are pretty clear from what I do share. (Let’s just say a lot of stuff from The Zinn Project and The Equal Justice Initiative.) I will admit to using the mute button liberally.
Mostly, I try not to be judgmental. We all have pasts and stories and cultures that define who we are and are difficult, and perhaps, impossible to shed. I genuinely care about the people I follow, and I try to put relationship ahead of politics or religion. But, yesterday, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, two posts, in particular, just seemed incredibly out of line: a ridiculous “I’m just sayin” kind of conspiracy theory post and then one that showed real hatred towards those on the other side. Mean and ugly posts about people like me from people that I regarded as friends. Granted, they did not originate the thought, but they shared it and pretty cleared agreed with it.
One of the women who posted checked in with me via Messenger almost every day as I was recovering from my surgery last year. Yet, her rhetoric in a public forum was really hateful. She genuinely seems to find people like me repugnant. While I am no snowflake, my feelings were hurt. Had she considered me at all before sharing the post? She knows me to be a good person, I think, and must be aware that her post was going to hurtful. She has chosen politics over our relationship. I considered a confrontation, but I pressed mute for now. It is tempting to try to engage her, but if her ongoing posts and comments are any indication, she does not appear to be open to ideas outside her echo chamber.
I guess I feel a little betrayed: I stuck with these friends even though we disagreed on larger issues because I wanted to know about their lives and support them as friends and even be aware of what others outside my own echo chamber were thinking. Part of the reason I don’t do “those people on the other side are horrible” kinds of posts is because I do care about their feelings. I know I’m not going to change their minds and it would just be hurtful. How could we still be friends if I took that path. I wonder if these women stopped to ask that question of themselves?
Here’s my plea: can we, just for a little while, focus on what connects us. I love the posts from families about surviving quarantine and doing simple gardening at home. I look forward to the posts from a friend who is asking daily questions about what we are learning or cooking or thinking.
Today, we all shared pics of meaningful art from our homes. Here’s mine: my favorite poem from Wendell Berry seems so appropriate now. It is done as a collage, and I know I purchased it at an art festival in Corolla, NC, a very long time ago. There doesn’t appear to be an artist’s name on it:
If you have managed to maintain any friendships with people with whom you disagree, try reaching out in a positive way. Or at least unmute them for a few days to wish them well.
Be safe out there.