I received two troubling private messages on social media within a week from one another. One was penned from a previous lover. It was brief and read exactly like this: “I can’t believe the girl I loved back in TX has drifted so far to the Left. If I didn’t have so many fond memories I would unfriend her.” Accompanied by not one, not two, but three sad face emojis. Directed as if it were not to me, but to an imaginary third person about me.
Yes, it was a political statement from him. Argh, that dirty word, “politics”. What rings so strange to me is this message was not something he would have said to me back when we were dating. Or at least I do not think he would have. I was in my 20’s living in small-town East Texas at the time and my “starter marriage” – as I like to call it – was falling apart. Somehow after university I traded my party girl crown for the conservative little homemaker wife title. It was a role I did not fake very well, although I did try for a few years. This guy saw these alternative facts about me immediately. You see, it was the 1980’s and it was the time of gender-bending, make-up wearing men and legal Ecstasy and all night raves. Although this guy had a respectable day job, at night he was out playing. Next thing I knew, I was taken on an extreme carnival ride along with him. And I welcomed it. I was absolutely crazy about him.
Although we lived in the same city for only a short time, we managed to keep in touch and see one another on and off for many years. He opened my mind about sex and bizarre behavior/opinions in a way that had not been awakened before from my conservative roots. He was outrageous. And the more outrageous behavior he displayed, the more I would mirror. For example, I remember one time we were having dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Dallas. I ate an atomic hot chili pepper and the frightening results were immediate. I was having trouble breathing and started sweating like a sinner in church. I stood up and dropped my dress in the restaurant (for effect) while he poured some water on me. The diners looked on in troubled amazement, while we laughed. I am so glad I grew up in an era of no camera phones.
Truly at that time in my life….and even as the memories of him live on, he was the epitome of “cool”. We kept in touch occasionally as time went on. Within the last year I was thrilled when I received a friend request from him, as he was not on social media for a long time. Now this…threatened to be unfriended by one of the coolest people with whom I had shared intimate space. Wow.
To set the record straight (argh, politics), I consider myself to be a fairly moderate democrat. I absolutely do not agree with the policies of the new administration, nor did I vote for the current POTUS. In fact, there are many times I am outraged and downright frightened by what is going on. Do I think Washington could be run better and cleaner? Absolutely. So I understand why people wanted change. I have friends, family and clients who are hard-core republicans. I respect people’s right to vote. And I am not here for name calling or to belittle them for decisions different from mine. And I would certainly not unfriend someone for their views, unless they were attacking me for mine. The unfollow button is handy too for those ranters from the other side. As many of you know!
I have been around for a long time, voting in 10 US presidential elections (and countless other races). It seems the best administrations have worked with a moderate, nearer to center congress who compromised to get business accomplished. I feel extremism does not work. Left, right, Christian, Muslim, racial, whatever. Extremism is simply more divisive. And the atmosphere feels pretty extreme currently. In fact, after seeing this chart of the USA Congressmen, it is frightening how extremely far away the red side has pulled from center. The most widely used measure of political polarization, a score of ideology based on voting developed by Kenneth Poole and Howard Rosenthal, has shown that the Republicans in the Senate and especially the House have drifted away from the center far more rapidly than Democrats.
The other message came from a girlfriend who I have known for several years. I cherish her friendship. Seems I have always agreed with her on most everything. And then she called me out on a post telling me I was sounding selfish regarding the Muslim ban because I was annoyed I had to change some travel plans to one of these countries. She felt that I would make a much better case posting about all of the people who are suffering because of the ban, rather than my unhappiness regarding my plans. (After cooling off, I did see her point and ended up deleting the post).
The discussion was actually a long and somewhat heated (more on her end, I think) online conversation. She, feeling I was showing examples of not caring about what was happening and not standing up for what I believed (paraphrased). I was surprised, as she has no idea the organizations I financially support for my causes or the emails I have sent and calls I have made to make sure my voice is heard by my representatives. Isn’t that what moderates do? They plod along and, in time, get their work done, not typically making giant visible waves, but making a difference. It is not sign of weakness. It is a different means to an end. However, I am not going to defend my politics here or criticize others. That is not what this post is about.
Ultimately, both of these messages I received made me terribly sad. A certain sadness that has hung around for a while. Regardless of their political leanings I want them both in my life. Two people I adore who feel they are not sure they want to be my friend any longer….one because I am left of center, and one because I am too right of left. Isn’t it ironic how it is all in one’s perspective? Perhaps they were in a bad mood that day. Perhaps they were attacked for something political recently. Perhaps they are just as damn tired of the US Government debacle as I am. Or perhaps they just don’t like me. <insert sad emoji>
I feel like this new world order is tearing people apart. Families, friends, clients, acquaintances. I hear it over and over. And it seems there is no end to it. This is the real carnage. No compromises, angry words, zero respect and relationships left in the dust. Where do we go from here? Monday Musings.