My Facebook news feed has been peppered with this phrase since Trump won the Republican nomination: “If you support Trump, please unfriend me now.” But now that he’s our incoming President, it’s tripled in appearance and become all-caps: “If you voted for Trump, JUST UNFRIEND ME NOW.”
Friends, family, and friends that are like family: no matter who you voted for on Tuesday (and even if you didn’t vote at all), please don’t unfriend me.
Please talk to me instead. I want to have an open and civil dialogue with you, no matter what you believe. I want to understand you, your beliefs, and the experiences you’ve had in the past that lead to your beliefs today. I want to know why you chose what you chose on Tuesday.
If I sequester myself with only like-minded people or wear blinders when I encounter anyone who is different from me, I will only make the division in our country worse. If I reject people I was once friends with based on their beliefs, I will only aid in spreading more negativity and hate. I will be part of the problem.
I don’t have to agree with everything someone believes in to have a relationship with them. If I only hung out with people who had the same beliefs as I did… I would have zero friends. I wouldn’t be married, either.
I have been pro-choice since I learned what it meant at age 13. I have some friends who are staunchly pro-life. I have had questionable experiences with organized religion and do not identify as any religion, but many of my friends hold their religious communities dear. I am a registered Independent and have never voted Republican, but a couple I respect and admire went to the Republican National Convention this year. I don’t think anyone should own guns, yet some of my family members do. I believe in government, yet I dated an Anarchist for many years. I donated to and voted for Bernie Sanders, yet I’ve heard “Bernie Bros” jokes being thrown around in my company. I believe voting is important and my vote counts, yet some people I love didn’t vote and believe their vote wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
My point is: now is not the time to further divide ourselves from one another.
I could spend all my time ranting on Facebook or at work or at parties about how everyone should be a feminist, but if I’m only surrounding myself with other feminists, it’s not going to make a difference. I’d be preaching to the choir.
Now, the majority of my friends are as liberal as I am. And yes, it’s important to be part of organizations and communities that support your beliefs and causes. But, I think it’s just as important to have a diverse human experience and try to understand people who are different from me. In turn, I hope they will listen to and try to understand me.
There is a part of me that hopes I’ll be able to change some people’s minds by talking to them about my beliefs. But there’s another part , the realist part, that knows that this isn’t always possible. Either way, it’s not worth losing a friend or a family member over this.
There have been days leading up to this election where I have wanted to throw my computer against the wall while reading comments from people I know online, or stand up and scream “BUT WHY WOULD YOU SUPPORT THAT?!” to people I know. I have cried when I learned certain people I love supported Trump, and was later overjoyed when they withdrew their support. I have rolled my eyes when others declared they were abstaining from voting. There have also been days when I’ve sat with friends and ranted about close-minded, conservative, “nostalgic” thinking.
But, if I shut out everyone who is different from me, then I’m emulating the exact behavior I’m against. I refuse to be a close-minded, provincial shut-in.
So please, if you and the people in your life are on the opposite ends of major issues, don’t shut them out. Practice tolerance. Try to have a dialogue. And yes, there are exceptions to this (as with everything). If they’re spewing major hate speech, threatening you or making you feel unsafe, etc., then it is not worth it. But hopefully, by opening up the possibility for dialogue, we can all begin to heal.
Hi, I’m Cassandra. I voted for Bernie because I wanted change. Then I voted for Hilary because I saw it as a vote against Trump. I’m nervous about the next four years. Let’s understand each other.