Recently, at a morning huddle in our office, I became aware of the fact that 20% of people have lost a significant relationship due to politics. That’s a lot of relationships. I am not a smart man but over the years I have learned, through experience, that relationships are one of the most valuable things a person can have. I have depended on them in my darkest days and found comfort in them when nothing else could provide comfort. I guard and respect the relationships in my life and believe it is ridiculous to lose them over something as insignificant as a candidate for public office.
Let me back up a bit. It has been over three decades since I was able to cast a vote for a President with pride and satisfaction. Every four years since then, it has come down to the lesser of two evils. Of course, that is an expression with which you are surely familiar. You may disagree with the notion, but for me it is the truth.
If that is so, I can’t imagine losing one of the things that is most valuable to me (relationships) over something that I consider an “evil.” So, when I heard this statistic it really caused me some pain and confusion. How is it that we are jeopardizing relationships over candidates who are deeply flawed and will never be known to us. On its face, the notion seems absurd; and that is because it probably is.
What brought this discussion to our morning huddle was the picture of Ellen DeGeneres seemingly enjoying her time with former President Bush at a Dallas Cowboy’s game. She is a secret Packers fan and was happy to be the guest of the Dallas Cowboy’s owner, Jerry Jones. Her picture went viral on social media and the court of public opinion suddenly and dramatically was in session. She was lambasted by “fans” who considered her a sellout. A liberal, lesbian celebrity was seen cavorting with a former Republican President.
As only Ellen could, she addressed the issue head on (Full disclosure, I don’t watch her TV show as I am working, but I have long been a fan of hers since her stand-up comedy days). Her response was also quite popular on social media. She called out the people who were upset and declared that she had friends of all persuasions, beliefs, colors, and political orientation. Furthermore, she reminded her fans that when she implores people to be kind to one another, she means be kind to everyone, not just people who believe the same way you do.
It is truly sad that she must make this kind of statement. It is sad that 20% of people have lost a significant relationship due to politics. It is sad that I feel compelled to echo her voice with this blog. But friends, it is about to get much worse. This is going to be a pretty rough year. Every one of us came to our beliefs honestly through our own personal experience. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and allow the people closest to us to believe what they would like, support who they would like without judgement and hold fast to our relationships. Long after the candidate has left the office, you will look back only with regret over the relationships that were lost.
Statistically speaking, one of you is part of the 20%. I am asking with as much sincerity as I can, please be the bigger person and work to restore the relationships that have been lost. Own your portion of it, apologize, and let the people you love know their relationship is the most important thing to you and you want to work to prove it is true. I promise you will not be sorry. If you are, call me and tell me about it. I will listen, and regardless of your politics, I will be grateful for our relationship.