I have told myself I will not blog about politics; unless it can be unifying. That is a challenge for me; particularly this year.
I have strong political views and I often have to fight off the urge to express them in a divisive way. When I get up on my soapbox, I can be a bit annoying and, worse, I quit listening or hearing anyone else. Politics can do that to me.
This closely resembles something that seems to happen to many of my divorcing clients. It is easy for them to adopt strong positions, often fueled by anger and fear, and to seek out affirmation for their positions. It generally does not take them too long to find friends, relatives, and attorneys who will feed that drive and support them in their righteousness. As a result, they often arrive at the bargaining table way too certain of the hostile motives of the person they once loved. It would be comical, if it were not so tragic; particularly when children become the collateral damage. In the Collaborative Divorce world, our hope is that we can get people talking about their love for their children; and other common goals, so that the power of their differences becomes less toxic.
So it is with politics. I get caught up in my positions and I seek affirmation from friends and commentators who I know will give me a steady diet of the righteousness I crave. Before long, I start to lose respect for the views held by some of my very good friends who seem to be “on the other side.”
To combat this urge, I often try to force myself (with limited success) to see my blind spots and to understand how the people on the “other side” really do care about the same things that I care about. Here is where my work in the divorce world can be helpful. Focusing on our common goals, whether it is relation to our children, or our vision of our country, can have a powerful effect is resolving our differences.
This year it has been difficult to see it that way. As you may have guessed, I have not been able to find a way to respect Donald Trump. As a result, my ability to see the other side has been very limited and my “inner Gandhi” has taken a bit of trampling. Sadly, it has left me feeling very disconnected with a large percentage of our population. I don’t like being in that place.
Nonetheless, I am trying to find something unifying and positive underneath all of this. I am trying to remind myself of how much I respect and admire my Republican friends who have helped me try to understand the very honorable and noble parts of the Republican point of view. For the most part, I am convinced that these people want the same great country that I want; they simply see a different path. Their heroes, from Eisenhower to Reagan to Ford to both Bushes, (and Romney and McCain) are all people I respect and admire (especially this year.) We need that Republican party and I look forward to discussions with these friends about how we can move forward as a nation. Most of them struggle with the Trump behaviors in ways that I struggle.
As for the people who actually support Mr. Trump, I have to confess it is still difficult for me to develop true empathy. The issue of how to connect with people who have such a different view of the world is a great challenge; something for another blog perhaps.
For now, I want my focus to be on how important it is for me to stay connected and how politics, like divorce and other great struggles, can tempt me to look at all information selectively and, as a result to increase my righteousness and bias in a way that is not healthy. I look forward to working on this; beginning on November 9.