Political opponents yet friends

November 19, 2020


Imagine this, I have a friend who doesn’t agree with my political beliefs. Of all the nerve. 

Although Cora Beth and I have sharply contrasting political opinions, we’ve discovered 300 other things we have in common, not counting our double first names and love of salty snacks.  For over ten years now, we’ve helped each other with projects, met for lunch and included each other on party guest lists. In this day and age, we’ve discovered a secret not many people know — you don’t have to discuss everything. 

The greatest generation has yet another reason to claim greatness. They’ve mastered the art of shutting-up and they know how to shut the rest of us up with an attitude of maturity and class. Bringing dangerous conversations to a screeching halt with the lift of an eyebrow and drawing boundaries by tilting their head is a talent the rest of us have somehow missed. 

Don’t get me wrong, when I’m with like-minded people, I love discussing political issues until we all jump up, march around the room and sing, “God Bless America,” but it’s a lesson of control to keep that topic to a limited group. I think Cora Beth is wrong on many political issues, but recognizing she’s an intelligent woman, I know there’s nothing I can say to change her mind, so what’s the point? She feels the same about me, and as granny said, we love each other “in spite of ourselves.”  

Do Cora Beth and I love America? Yes. Do we agree on grits and pearls? Double yes. Supreme Court nominees and gun control? No and no. College football? It depends. Blue Willow china? Yes. Homemade biscuits? Yes. The elections? Oh, mercy daisy no. We recognize a minefield when we see it and wisely choose a different path. And here we are, years later, still friends.

Making the difficult decision to unfollow some friends on social media who think it’s okay to lash out with enraging attacks on candidates and their supporters was powerful. Not seeing their daily complaints about . . . well, everything, has brought peace. My personal social media page now shows updates from people who still may have opposing political views, yet they are civil and polite. They bring thoughtful ideas to my attention, along with pictures of their dogs and children — not hostility and insults. 

Life is short, and perhaps that’s what the Greatest Generation understands. They’ve seen wars, civil unrest, business failures and pandemics long before 2020. They’ve lived long enough to hold children and spouses who were dying and have learned the hard way that life doesn’t revolve around politics. The world keeps turning and morning by morning new mercies we see. Babies are born, stories are shared and friendships are strengthened. Earthly leaders are temporary, but friends are to be cherished for a lifetime — even if we secretly think they voted for the wrong guy.

This story first appeared on AL.com and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times.

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