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How Can We Be Fierce Political Advocates, Yet Still Love Others Well

I was sitting with some family last weekend and we started talking about abortion. Abortion is one issue I do care a lot about. I know others disagree, but because I care about abortion, I will speak up. I will state my opinions and the facts that have formed it. I (honestly) will try to make the other person agree with me. AND I DON’T BELIEVE THIS IS BAD. If I firmly believe in one side, it is natural to want for others to see this side as well. I know there is strength in numbers, so I know that getting someone to see what I see must be beneficial for that cause. It is not bad to state our cases, to work for causes, and to present facts according to these beliefs.

BUT what happens when the person you speak to does not see your side? The sad thing (I’ve realized) is how easily we jump to insulting others when they don’t have same conclusions as us. We have been great political advocates, but we have forgotten about loving others. We have forgotten that their opinions are no more or less valuable just because we don’t agree with them. It is beautiful to speak up for your opinion. It is beautiful to be a political advocate, and to stand up for what we have seen to be just and right. I don’t want to live in a place where this doesn’t happen, but others will disagree with me about what is just and right. What do we do then?

Obviously the political campaigns are getting intense. Super Tuesday was this week and Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are leading for their parties. Did I vote for either of them? Honestly… No. A part of me saw the results and was dumbfounded. How can others not see what I see in every way?

But I refuse to get caught up in my opinion. Though I feel strongly in what I believe, I refuse to forget that others feel strongly as well. When I believe in something, I ‘know’ I’m right. Understanding other people is NOT believing they are also right. It is knowing that they also ‘know’ they are right in their beliefs. We may not understand their beliefs, but we get to respect that they are confident in theirs just as we are confident in ours. I reject the temptation of hubris, as it tries to convince me that my opinion is better for this country, more educated, or more country-focused (rather than self-focused). It is this hubris, this arrogant way of thinking, that encourages me to correlate a person’s voting habit (more specifically- whether it lines up with my voting habit) with their intelligence or worth. Simply, we all see different sides of the issue.

As we diligently stand up for our beliefs, as I believe we should, we can also remember that other opinions are not less than ours. We can firmly believe that we know what is right, and yet acknowledge that the other person also firmly believes that he/she knows better. We can think that another is flat-out wrong, yet still respect him/her.

By doing this – acknowledging their opinions as valuable- I believe we can love each other more beautifully while still advocating strongly for our beliefs.

Understanding each other, even if we disagree, can spur on a love that will repair our country.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you- here’s another reason: At this point, insulting others (their intelligence, integrity, and character) for what they believe will probably only encourage them to dive deeper into their beliefs. If someone came up to me and told me I was disgusting and anti-women for hating abortion, it wouldn’t deter me from hating abortion. It wouldn’t convince me that I am anti-women. It WOULD make me not want to talk to them anymore about it. So, lets be kind and smart. Lets state our opinions gracefully, pointing to the facts of the campaigns and the candidates. There is still so much to be uncovered and we all do have information to offer others. Despite my confidence in what I believe, I know there is a lot more that I am not aware of. So, yes…let’s be fierce political advocates. Let’s try to state our case and say what we believe…but let’s not be insulted when people don’t agree. Let’s (also) not insult others for believing differently than us. They have different backgrounds, motivators, and influences, and they most likely believe they are right (just as you do). And finally, no need for personal jabs at anyone. We are all doing the best we can.

With political conversations, it may feel like you can’t win. Either you stifle your opinions, or you voice your thoughts only for others to think you’re looking for a hateful debate.

The way I see it- EVERY PERSON believes he/she is right. As much as I believe my thoughts are educated and complex and correct, another will believe the same about his opinions. It could be tempting to believe myself superior to others because of my opinions. AND It is also tempting for the other person to think himself superior. Difference has started to divide in the worst ways- where we all rank ourselves above others because of our beliefs.

Published for Grafted Magazine

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