Voting for Something Radical

I just sent an email reply to someone who wrote me this morning assuming I’m voting as he is. I replied, “You and I are really, really different politically, and you are one of my favorite people EVER!!”  I usually just hit “delete” when I disagree with people, but it seems more important sometimes to cast a vote for “love anyway” over “let’s not talk about our differences.”

Once (30 years ago) I described a new friend to my husband by saying, “She’s great; she’s so normal.” When he asked what “normal” meant, I replied without a shred of irony that it meant that she was like me. “Normal?” Me, normal? Probably not. But whether I’m normal or not, the fact that I use myself as the measure of whether someone else is acceptable, well that just doesn’t work for  my grown-up self now.

So isn’t it interesting that most of us assume, especially on an election day like today, that the people we really like probably agree with us and THOSE PEOPLE — you know the ones! — undoubtedly belong to the OTHER party — you know, the WRONG one.

When I went today to my polling place, I was wearing my SPACIOUS t-shirt as a conversation starter. My passion is bringing together people who think they wouldn’t like each other in such a way that they discover that amazingly they do; that’s what SPACIOUS is most about. I was carrying a book called Love Wins (because I happen to be reading it and was headed on foot to the gym after I voted). But honestly I wanted to be a walking, talking billboard for the idea that “love wins” and that we can all afford to be “spacious.”

I stepped into the booth, looked at the ballot, and thought I’d burst into tears. Not because I couldn’t find a candidate who suited me at least well enough to vote for (I did). Not because I didn’t understand the language on one of the referendum questions (I didn’t after three readings). But because I was standing there, in a free country, a foot or two away from neighbors who may vehemently disagree with me, with the right to register my opinion on choices about candidates and issues and then live to write about it.

So in the spirit of being FOR things and not AGAINST things, what if the most important thing we “vote” for today is the mandate to love and respect neighbors with whom we vehemently disagree? Neighbors who think that we and our opinions are not just desperately wrong but even abnormal and whose viewpoints are impossible for US to understand (but valuable nonetheless).

Consistently doing that would usher in a new era for our nation, one that could benefit us well beyond a paltry four years.

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