Published in the Rains County Leader on February 7, 2017:
It’s almost impossible to avoid politics in this day and time – especially on Facebook. Last week I saw a picture of cows standing behind a barbed-wire fence with a red arrow pointing to the fence post. The caption read “A non-political post. You’re welcome!” I thought it was cute, and it seemed innocuous enough, so I shared it. Several people “liked” it, and a few people shared it – but two of my friends actually made political comments about it.
I’m as political as anyone, but I have yet to see a political exchange in which one participant has influenced another participant to change his or her mind – at least about politics. I was, however, involved in an email exchange that changed someone’s opinion about me.
Shortly after the election, a friend texted me with a link to a political article and asked for my opinion. I almost opted out, because I knew this friend and I had some very basic differences, but I couldn’t come up with a graceful way to decline. I responded as diplomatically as I could and hoped that would be the end of it. No such luck. She responded, thanking me for my thoughtful answers and asking more in depth questions about my thoughts and beliefs. We spent most of the day exchanging ideas by email, and although neither of us tried to change the other’s mind, it happened anyway.
“We’ve known each other for almost twenty years,” I wrote toward the ending of the day. “You knew we didn’t agree on a lot of things.”
“Yes, I knew we were different, but I had no idea how much. I feel like we’re on different planets.”
We’re still friends, but sadly it’s not the same. I’ve thought about that experience a lot since it happened, wondering if I should write about it as a cautionary tale to others. Until today, though, I didn’t really know how to approach it without stirring up a lot of the political kerfuffle I try so hard to avoid. This morning on the way home from church, I read a post from a high school friend. My comment was “I wish I’d said that. In fact, I may use some of it in my weekly column if that’s okay.” It was, so with her permission, here is an unedited Facebook post written by Shirley Wilcox:
Sunday morning musings: made my coffee, walked the dogs, settled in my comfy chair and scanned Facebook. Big mistake. Read “political” posts between mutual “friends” who may have fractured their “friendship” with each other because of their need to put their “2 cents” out there about what they think is right and wrong about the leadership of our country, obviously offending the other. Really? THEN Word Alert popped up (every morning at 7:20) and this is the scripture for today:
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19
I direct this to my “Christian” politically-minded friends and colleagues: I wish you would just STOP the political stuff. I see you and I love you so I naturally am interested in your goings on. But then I see what is really important to you and it’s too late. I’m sucked into your discourse. It’s troubling to me. I understand NON-Christian politically-minded friends who do not have OR understand “the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” But Christians are supposed to have it. Please don’t assume I am hiding under a rock. I CARE about America and I CARE about policies and I CARE about RIGHTS and all that. And I HAVE expressed an opinion or two — but God sees my heart and what’s really in there–is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? I hope so and want it to be. One more thought: I believe there are conservative Christians and liberal Christians. You will know them by the fruit of the spirit.
Amen to that!