Yikes—the first Presidential debate. Need I say more? The first Presidential debate between Joe Biden and President Donald Trump was rough— to say the least. It didn’t go at all how I had envisioned. I had hoped the debate would be somewhat civil and that we (the American public) would get an unfiltered look at each candidate’s position. Unfortunately, that is not what played out. Instead, we got a lot of talking over one another, arguing, name-calling, and not listening. Throughout the debate, I kept thinking, neither candidate is winning but America is definitely losing. I know I was extremely let down, and from what I can tell, many others were as well.
What is interesting to me, upon reflection, is what we all disliked so much about the debate the other night, is exactly what so many of us are doing in our everyday lives. Lots of us are fighting tooth and nail with those who disagree with us. We are talking over others, arguing, name-calling, and not listening to each other as well. Maybe we don’t do it to one another’s faces, but we are definitely doing it over social media.
The morning after the debate I woke up to a Facebook friend who basically told anyone who supports Trump to unfriend her. She said in a very blanket statement that anyone who supports him is a racist and a disappointment. Have we really gotten to this point as Americans? Is our vision really this narrow? How can we lump 100’s of thousands of people together into all being racist just because they support a certain candidate? Do people genuinely believe that all Trump supporters are truly racist? Who started this civil war amongst us and why are we allowing it to happen?
I am fearful about where we will end up if we continue to go down this road. I have seen friendships ruined and heard of family members who no longer speak due to politics. Passion is great, but passion gone wild is dangerous. I fear that too many of us are letting our passion for politics take over. I will admit, I have had moments myself where I have wondered, “Do I still want to be friends with this person who believes so differently than me?” It is hard to not get caught up in it all, because when you think about it, politics really represents our morals. We each have a moral belief system, and when people around us don’t have the same one, it is hard not to judge. It is also hard not to lose patience, and it is especially hard not to become angry.
So where does that leave us? What can we do about this? What do we need to remember? Here is a starting off point:
My friends and family who stand on the opposite side of the political spectrum than me also want what is best for the American people.
I need to remember this and remind myself of this often. They are not evil. They are not without any virtue. We just have different thoughts and ideas about how to best serve the people of our country. If I can remember that their hearts are coming from a good place as well, perhaps hate and anger won’t be able to come between us.
I did a little digging on the internet for articles with tips and tricks on how to save friendships during these tough political times. I found a helpful article, that although older, still holds up today. The ideas offered are all things we can do to protect our relationships with others, while still having a dialogue about important issues and topics. You can take a look at the article here. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201209/8-ways-lose-friends-talking-politics
As for the presidential candidates, and further debates, I know will still watch them. I still have hope that they can turn it around in a way that will better serve our country. I will, however, go into the debate with less emotional baggage. I realized after the first debate, that I was putting a lot of myself into my candidate of choice. When he didn’t hold up to what I wanted, I felt a bit sucker-punched. I realize I have no control over what he says or does, and even though I still believe he is by far the best candidate—I am not going to let it make or break me. I am also going to face the reality that hit me smack in the face following the debate:
this political climate is a locomotive on a runaway track. I have been trying to hang on throughout it all, but now I want off this crazy train.
Going forward, here is what I can do and what I can control. I can vote for the candidate whose policies most align with my own. I can pray for our leaders and for our country. I can choose to love the people in my life, whether they agree with my political affiliations or not. I can be proud of our country and pay respect to all the people who have fought for our freedom. I can try to understand where others are coming from and with whom I don’t agree. I can choose to live my life outside of politics and this election. I can love my family well. I can help others who need a helping hand. I can call a friend.
Most importantly, I can continue to study the bible and give thanks for the gospel because I know that is where real TRUTH and VIRTUE can be found. I can find peace in knowing that God has got this no matter what. He knows exactly what will happen with the election and why it will happen the way it does. In Him, I put all my faith and hope—not a political candidate or party. I am ever so thankful for Him!