merits of both candidatesI was half listening to “Meet the Press” the other morning and overheard the comment, “The opposition is not the enemy.” I don’t even know who said it, as I really wasn’t paying attention, but the statement resonated with me. In my world, the opposition is the friends and family that supported Donald Trump’s viewpoints or his bid for presidency. I have been trying to reconcile with them ever since the election.

My friend Jen is one of the kindest and most reasonable people I know. I value the time we spend together and miss her when one of us is AWOL for a time. She is generous, talented and loving. She is always willing to discuss controversial topics, even if she doesn’t agree with me. Her beliefs are strongly grounded in her moral code, which stems from her strong Christian faith. She was not necessarily a Trump supporter, but she is pro-life whereas I am pro-choice. Jen always says that the most enlightened people can argue a topic from both sides. She is beautiful and smart, and although we may disagree on a few issues, we agree on most. She prays and I march. It’s OK with both of us.

My son, Dustin, and I had a vivid discussion before the election on the merits of both candidates. He supported Trump mainly because he disliked Hillary so intensely. He is convinced that she is dishonest and evil. I still don’t know what portion of his belief is factual or what is based on “alternative facts.” Dustin graduated from a Bible college and married a beautiful Christian woman who has done missionary work in Africa and other underdeveloped countries. She is a teacher, and they both spend time helping those less fortunate. We can agree on the merits of helping others, but for me that extends to all life, not just human life. Jen and Dustin spread the teachings of Christ. I prefer the words of Mahatma Gandhi — specifically, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” My son does not believe that Trump’s ban on immigrants is humane or appropriate. My grandparents were Syrian immigrants.

My friend Cora is a dedicated animal activist and fellow vegan. We had a discussion on Facebook before the election regarding the merits of both candidates. She supported Trump because of her pro-life convictions. When I pointed out that Trump’s children were trophy hunters, she remarked that they weren’t going to quit anytime soon and it was unlikely their viewpoints will change. Cora also emphasized that she would continue to support all animals. She has kept her word and has remained a dedicated and determined voice for all sentient beings. Cora and I can agree that animals should be treated humanely and that plant-based eating is a great way to save animals, our planet, and ourselves.

My spouse, Mike, largely agrees with the Libertarian platform. He has degrees in political science and history. He has read the United States Constitution and The Federalist Papers and can recite The Bill of Rights from memory. He is incredibly knowledgeable regarding how our government works. When Mike was in college, he interviewed for a position with the CIA and made it through every interview but the last. I have learned not to argue with him regarding politics, because he is usually right. He believes that the checks and balances put in place by our forefathers will limit the damage that this administration can do to our country. I’m skeptical, which is why I am writing this. I remember when a married woman couldn’t have a credit card in her name only. I also remember civil rights disputes. I have a transgender relative and am concerned about equality for all. I also believe in climate change and human-caused environmental destruction. Therefore, I will still write, march, and voice my opinion, but I will agree to disagree and try to argue topics from both sides.

It’s getting to the point where I don’t know what is real anymore. After a while, lies become truths if heard enough times, so it’s imperative to sift through the hype. Jen and Dustin would say, “Seek assistance through prayer.” Mike would say, “Read the Constitution and look carefully. Scrutinize everything you hear or read, and if it can’t be backed up with facts, discard it.” Cora and I would say, “Listen to your gut, and always act with kindness.” Just saying.

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