I came to grips with an important fact years ago. I write for me. There are a few people that read my writings on baseball and a few that read my posts on politics and social issues. Some have reached out and commented one way or another, but the whole concept of a blog got started as a way for people to write a diary in digital format.
America is morphing into a battleground politically, socially, and religiously. It gets really bad when we morph two of those together. For instance, I hear people say that you can’t be a good Catholic or a good Christian if you vote for Joe Biden. I hear others say that you are a racist if you support Donald Trump. I hear lots of things and have said lots of things. Some of them I might even believe partially, but now is not a time where I want to re-litigate any of those statements.
Of course, no sadder thing can happen then when politics, religion, or social issues divide and conquer families. This is as personal a reflection as it is an observation in general. We each play a role when we have family squabbles. As I am fond of telling my students, you always have a choice whether to escalate a situation or deescalate a situation. I’ve been on both ends of that.
This hit home during two different conversations this week. I won’t reveal the details of the conversations for the few that are reading this, but it became clear that politics and stupid conspiracy theories were threatening to destroy relationships. One surrounded what I can only assume stemmed from the QAnon conspiracy run amok. I’ve talked about it before. The other involved just a regret about fighting in public. I can’t be certain, but I think one of my posts was involved.
The QAnon conspiracy is a great example of cult-like behavior. One of the ways that cults begin to take over your life is that they convince you that everyone that believes a certain way is evil. Then even people that you know and love become evil. At that point, they can separate you from your family and bring you into the collective whatever. It’s at this point where you have to make a critical choice. Is the person who I’ve known and loved for years suddenly my enemy? Perhaps the person telling me that is really my enemy.
I called this striking a balance because there are times when we need to confront family and friends. The psychology world calls this an intervention. Maybe they have toxic beliefs or are participating in toxic behaviors. This is why it can be so hard to let go of that political debate or that debate over religion. We feel like we are right and we want to help our family member or friend from going down the wrong path.
This is when we have to ask ourselves whether they have changed the essence of who they really are. Would supporting them and loving them change the essence of who we really are? I’ve had to end toxic friendships before. It’s a difficult decision and there often is second guessing involved. Can we accept them for who they are? Can we maintain a relationship with them and still maintain the best parts of ourselves?
Pundits will tell us this is the most important election of our lifetimes. They will tell us that in 2024 and 2028 as well. Elections will come and go, but relationships with family and close friends hopefully won’t. They hopefully will stay with us. November will be here before you know it. For most of us, it can’t get here soon enough.