I guess that means you are wrong if you don’t agree with me. Right?
I learned from an early age that when I know something is one way, and someone else says it’s another way, that I’m right and they’re wrong. The earliest confrontation I remember about who’s right and who’s wrong came when I was in kindergarten. I went to school knowing how to spell my name: M-A-R-I-A-N. My teacher, Miss Polly, tried to spell it with an “O” instead of an “A” and I knew she was wrong. But how does a 5-year-old tell a teacher that she’s wrong? I decided to try to teach her the right way to spell my name. She said okay, but she never really did write it right.
But that wasn’t the only thing Miss Polly was wrong about. She was wrong about “left” and “right.” She told the class that your right hand is the hand you write with. I knew she was wrong about that, too. I’m a lefty. I corrected her every time we danced the “Hokey Pokey” and she tried to tell us that our right hand was the one we wrote with, but she just told me I was different – everyone else wrote with their right hand.
Somehow, I had confidence, knowing down deep that whatever I knew was right, really was right. My teachers and fellow students were simply wrong. I also learned that usually it wasn’t worth arguing with them. They weren’t open to enlightenment. I learned to accept differences of opinion as just something you had to live with, not something you had to get angry about.
Fast-forward 60 years. One thing I’ve learned about “right” and “wrong” over the years is that in almost every case, there is a kernel of truth in the “wrong” position. There are some people who really do spell their name M-A-R-I-O-N, and there are some people who write with their right hand – just not everyone.
Maybe there are even some people in the “other” political party who really care about poor people who are without health care. Perhaps all these people just disagree about the best means of providing health care. And maybe there really are a few people who are poor because they are lazy, even if there are many others who are poor and suffering through no fault of their own. And maybe not all rich and powerful people are greedy, even if some of them are.
The extreme polarization of politics in this country is so sad. A few of my best friends are followers of the “other” political party. I can’t understand how they can hold the beliefs they do, because I know they are good, moral people. From my perspective, there seems to be such a contradiction in their beliefs. I personally don’t know how they can reconcile the positions of their political party with their Christian values.
I’m tempted to condemn them for their contradictions. But, then I would guess they could probably find some contradictions within my values and beliefs… Maybe…
I guess the best thing I can do is try to find the kernels of truth in their beliefs, and respect them for that. Maybe that will prompt them to look for the kernels of truth in my beliefs, and we could have some good conversation about how our world really could be improved. At a minimum, we would be kinder and more loving to each other. It’s a start.