Friends who disagree

Hugh's 1st grade class.

I’m blogging every day of November, with each day being a post about a thing for which I am grateful. – HH

On the fifth day, I’m grateful for people in my life who disagree with me and yet try to stay connected with me.

I am a passionate person. I feel things deeply. I have a highly developed sense of empathy, and so I feel what I perceive as injustices to others viscerally. I don’t bend easily. I look around at the world as it is, with all our problems and it feels unbearable to me.

This runs a lot of folks off. And that’s regrettable, but I get it. There are some people who I so disagree with I cannot stand to be in the same room with them. So for the ones who try hard to stay in the room with me, I really appreciate the effort.

The other night, I was talking to someone I went to high school with, but hadn’t talked to since 1990 or so. Things have changed a lot since then (I probably had a Bush/ Quayle sicker on my car in those days) and I was trying to catch her up. She was someone whose essential convictions had not really changed – she was a progressive teenager, and is a progressive adult. I was just right of center on a lot of things, and moved dramatically left.

How did that happen, she asked?

I explained that moving away and meeting all sorts of people who were different than I am was a big part of it. As my relationships changed, my beliefs had to run to catch up with my relationships. In short, I changed because my relationships changed.

For me, it’s all personal. It’s all extremely personal.

I’m pro-choice because of the people I know and love. I’m pro LGBT people because of people I know and love. I’m a Universalist because of the people I know and love. I’m for Civil Rights because of people I know and love. I’m for the South because of people I know and love. I’m for working-class folks over Billionaires because of people I know and love.

And this extrapolates, too, to issues where I don’t know anyone personally involved. Because people I know and love have been on the wrong end of the Powerful, as long as there are people on the bottom of class and power, I’m for them, regardless of the particular issue.

I agree with Eugene Debs, who said, “While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Every single bit of who I am and fight for is personal.

And all that happened because the people I ate with, the people I had conversations with, the people who fed me, the people who held me, and the people who loved me, changed. And when I was confronted with ideas from those people that challenged me, I didn’t run away, but I tried hard to understand, because they mattered to me, and I wanted to stay connected to them. And so I appreciate the people who disagree with me, who I make uncomfortable, who struggle to stay in the room with me, but do.

I think that ultimately, nothing has more potential to impact us and the world around us – for good or ill – as much as our relationships do. And for the people who disagree with me but try real hard to stay connected to me, I’m grateful for you. I see how hard you try, and it means the world to me.