how do we love those we disagree with?

Hi love,

My love Nicole and I were having dinner with two friends last week. At one point, we were talking about politics, racism, classism, and almost all of the -isms. One of our friends was talking about how a public figure he follows on Instagram posted a picture of a "Make America Great Again" hat on his personal Instagram feed. Our friend was disgusted and immediately unfollowed him.

My heart sank a bit. I had questions. "What about him posting that hat on his feed caused you to unfollow him?" I asked. Our friend went on to say that he was sick to his stomach seeing that hat on this person's feed because of what that hat represents- white supremacy, the most recent Dr. Ford hearing, the continued family separation at the border, the Trump administration's current efforts to remove transgender from gender definition, the ways in which Trump treats cis-women, how much of a bully he is, etc.

Before our friend unfollowed this public figure, he regularly engaged with his feed because he is a brilliant educator on wine and wine-making (one of our friends' deep passions). After the hat picture, everything went out the window for him.

Listen, I totally hear that. I agree with all the injustices that our friend mentioned. They are inexcusable; they are intolerable; and they come from a very deep, core wounding. 

Aaron Rose (follow Aaron here!) said it so perfectly in a recent post speaking to the Trump administration's efforts to eradicate transgender from gender definition ... that those actions are a result of "unhealed and fearful people who have deep wounding around their own self-expression and their own genders, who are externalizing that onto us, who are seeking to achieve a feeling of security through regulating and controlling others."

What pains me about our friends' action, though, is something I can best express in the form of a question because the answer to it may not be able to be figured out and will not be the same for everyone. "...How are we supposed to create a society in which all people are able to be exactly who they are if we refuse to exist among people who hold vastly different perspectives from us?"

I want to recognize that it isn't safe and is very dangerous for some people to exist among those who hold vastly different perspectives. So, I'm not suggesting that we all do this. But for those of us who hold a particular set of privileges (i.e. white, cis-gendered, able-bodied), I feel that this question needs to be asked and really massaged through. I know, for me, I want to love people as deeply as I love myself. I want to sit with people who think differently than me - not knowing how our being together will go - and see them, hear them, and listen to them too. 

Many people in Nic's and mine biological families believe that our relationship is wrong and sinful. They believe being in a non-hetereosexual relationship will send us straight to hell. And - speaking specifically to Nic's side of the family - those are also incredibly kind, warm, beautiful human beings. We lean in closer to them. We spend time with them and shine our love so brightly. And as we do, we continue to experience their confusion; we experience them witnessing our pure, sacred love while also being faced with this belief system they have held onto. We witness them facing that tension between what they've been taught and what they're experiencing...and we are slowly witnessing their walls going down.

Now, of course, are there people for whom it is dangerous for us to be around? Yes. And we avoid those people. We are not martyrs. And there are certain people for whom we do not open our hearts to because it is dangerous.

But here's the thing: It's easy to gather with people who think like us. People who can validate what we believe. People who make us feel like we finally belong. And we need that. Deeply. But when we say that we advocate for a world of "oneness" while only communicating and surrounding ourselves with people who think like us and then vilify and attack those who hold opposing viewpoints, we are being hypocritical. We are acting in direct opposition to what we say we want to see in this world.

So...questions I'm asking myself today...may they bless you too:

Who, in your life, holds vastly different viewpoints than you? If it is safe for you to do so, can you lean into them and be with them? Can you practice seeing them not as an enemy but as a co-creator in our collective freedom? How might our interactions shift if we practiced inter-relating from this place?

With love,

Heather WaxmanComment