I caught up with my staunchly conservative friend recently and after the initial formalities he asked me how I have survived in a blue state in covid times. Underlying the question was his sympathy for how suffocating life must have been for us with the fear-mongering and shutdowns and rules and mask mandates.
“Very well!" I said cheerfully.
“What do you mean?” he countered after a brief silence.
I told him how Tarun and I have loved every minute of being at home, working ten steps away, taking long walks, eating better, and meditating. We have been immensely grateful for the ability to stay safe and not worrying about the source of the next paycheck was an incredible blessing. We started ordering everything online and will not go back to malls and theaters easily. I told him home prices around us are booming, shuttered business are opening, and that we’ve been going out to eat for months.
Then I lobbed the bomb...masks don’t bother us at all.
And then the RPG ....you see what happens when governments don't enforce rules?
“Hmm” he said quietly, trying to reconcile the disconnect between the FoxNews narrative of Orwellian life in blue states and my summary. I held my breath and asked him if he's vaccinated. He said yes.
Another conservative friend rails against dole and all the people who have learned to live off the government. She goes on about how God helps those who help themselves. Yet, she was FIRST in line for the PPP loan last summer. Go figure.
Lest we feel superior because of the alleged lack of hypocrisy among liberals, I'd like to point you to the liberals in my town who are constantly posting on nextdoor.com about a "guy in a hoodie" walking on the street or a car sitting at the end of the road with "weird people" inside. How about the ones who espouse the benefits of diversity while ensuring that their opinion is the only truth? Yup, I know you know these people. They are on both sides of the aisle.
I am friends with the person from the red state because he has been good to me. I don’t agree with his politics and he doesn’t agree with mine but each of us has cheered the other in our professional and personal quests. He’s very talented and we’ve not only admired his talent but we have gone to his performances.
A bit like Ginsberg and Scalia. Far less cerebral.
While the divisive rhetoric in the media continues to separate us and a dangerous demagogue is preparing to make a comeback aided by politicians pandering to his vote bank, I ask myself: “How do we survive?”
By building bridges, of course.
If we let politics interfere, we will be isolated worse than in the pandemic and indefinitely so. If you've been hesitating to reach out to that friend, co-worker, uncle, aunt, or cousin with whom you disagree on politics, just do it. Being able to talk without letting politics interfere is strangely satisfying.
Image source: https://www.gacetamercantil.com/notas/34564/