As many people know, I live in an extremely red section of my state. It is a somewhat rural area but the best of both worlds with horse properties, a mish-mash of homes from weathered mobile homes that are no longer allowed, aging two bedroom rock houses to McMansions, dirt roads and septic. Yet civilization and a grocery store is only four and half miles away.
My husband and I know many of the people in our small world because we walk our dog on a two-and-a-half mile loop almost everyday, and those with dogs will understand how easy it is to meet people that remember your dog’s name while forgetting yours.
I’ve written before about the people in our area that show us their guns and we know three such people that profess to be armed at all times, even while sitting in their living rooms drinking beer and watching sports or FOX. Several people, in fact the majority of those we know watch FOX religiously.
During the campaign for Kerry/Edwards in 2004, we proudly hung a sign on our fence and it was a decision that we’ve learned to regret except that we did meet one other Democrat at that time. A woman purposely sought us out to tell us that she was very happy to know that there was at least one other Democratic household in our neighborhood. Since then, we have learned of two more Democratic couples but we’ve grown uneasy since the election of Barack Obama because of the hostility that seems to have overtaken Republican-voters. Just last Halloween we shared horror stories of keyed vehicles that sported Obama-stickers and angry tailgaters and worse, and we agreed that things have changed since 2004 and we no longer feel safe with public displays concerning our politics, but we also agreed that we must stick together, quietly.
Until recently, I found myself literally hating people, my neighbors, for their politics and I considered them enemies and because of that, it changed me and how I interacted when encountering them on our walks.
And it made me miserable and honestly, paranoid.
When the opportunities arose in which politics entered conversations, my hate for Republicans surfaced and provoked anger and led to me being unable to vocalize rationally an opposing viewpoint. I dislike confrontation anyway but when my emotions run high, it renders me useless.
And it makes me feel stupid, inadequate, and miserable.
I had a decision to make, because overall, most of my neighbors are truly nice people and they are not heartless. We’ve received help from neighbors many times and most of those times without even having to ask.
These are people who offered help after my husband’s surgery and consoled me, including hugs, after the death of my brother.
I made the choice to ignore politics when it comes to my neighbors because it was making me so very unhappy. I realized that I would never be able to change my neighbors’ minds regarding their politics just as they would never change mine. After all, I’ve always voted for Democrats just as they’ve always voted for Republicans.
I started looking at politics differently and viewing it from a distance and that has helped me gain an understanding and come to the conclusion that politics is not everything.
And it’s made me happier and has given me peace of mind.
Now when we encounter neighbors, as we did the other morning, I am able to actually listen to complaints and in that case it was regarding Obamacare and because I was calm, I found that I do have the ability to speak cogently. It didn’t hurt that we’d just signed me up for Obamacare the day before and were knowledgeable about the process.
Our neighbor was relieved after our chat and in much better spirits, and due to our calm discussion, she realized that things she’d been hearing on FOX were wrong.
And that made me very happy.
How do you get along with your Republican friends, coworkers, neighbors and family?
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