Do you want a vacation from politics? I’ve heard from many that they’re simply tired of the news with all of its vitriol and divisiveness. “Turn the news off!” they say. Maybe it’s time to take a vacation!
Recently, my wife and I did just that. We took a vacation. Summers are noted for times away from home and routine. It’s time to relax and change things up a bit. We did what many do during these summer months.
A wedding anniversary
The occasion was a 60thwedding anniversary for my sister and brother-in-law. We met at a lake cottage in northern Minnesota. Silver wedding anniversaries (the 25th) are often good. Golden wedding anniversaries (the 50th) are always great. 60thwedding anniversaries are, by our recent experience, spectacular!
It was a time for good memories, funny stories, and calming campfires. It was a good vacation.
Relatives came from five states: California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas. There were grandparents and grandchildren. Aunts and uncles attended. Nephews and nieces, and grand nephews and grand nieces, also came. Cousins came out of the woodwork. It was a memorable vacation.
There was one rule: Thou shalt not discuss politics!
It bothered me a bit for, I wondered, who are we that we cannot simply discuss the issues of the day? What have we become? Surely, we can manage the political divide for a few short days. Right?
The restriction proved to be sage advice. A wide political spectrum was represented at the meals, the campfires, and the early morning coffee chats. Had we broken the rule, we would have missed a beautiful moment—a time to reconnect and reminisce and celebrate a truly successful marriage.
We were on vacation.
There was no news to collectively follow and social media was largely ignored. There were no exclamations over the latest events (thought there were many from which to choose). It was a time to detox from the fervor felt merely hours ago. Those hours slipped into days that seemed like weeks of respite. The vacation was refreshing.
Setting aside our differences is the point of this blog. Our political landscape has been extremely divisive recently. People we know and care about and respect, we find, sometimes think differently than we do. We are perplexed and are confused. How can this be? What can we do?
It’s been said that if someone doesn’t agree with you (provided you are correct in your thinking), they are ignorant, stupid, or insane. If you’re correct in your opinion, then which of these three options fit those who disagree with you? It’s a fool’s question and one that deepens the divide among us rather than heals.
As Dr. Joyce Brothers, a noted American psychologist, has said:
Anger repressed can poison a relationship as surely as the cruelest words.
Our differences could easily have spurred our deeper sentiments into anger. Our vacation could easily have created a needless divide. An opportunity to celebrate a life-long marriage would have been lost.
Building on common values
It was our vacation. We obeyed the rule and found a basic truth: all of us held a common value for respect and family and trust. It was a foundation from which we did not stray. It brought warmth and connection and familial joy. Conversations were lively, full of laughter, and endearing.
This common foundation should not be dismissed whether we are on vacation or back in our routines and in the midst of another news cycle. We are truly more alike than we are different.
Still, lest you surmise this as a call for complacency and silence, I am also urging you to be aware of political issues, be politically active, and vote! Though we may engage in debate (a healthy democracy demands it), civility should always be our standard, regardless of the counter examples we often witness. We must listen to each other rather than wrap ourselves with insulating proofswe are correct in our thinking.
Equal Voice Voting requires inclusion
The mechanism we use to elect our nation’s president should, likewise, not divide us. Equal Voice Voting requires that a democratic truth be followed: all votes count! That means everyone’s vote, whether they vote like us or not, should count and every state should matter. We must make space for everyone to be heard and respected and counted.
Vacation outcomes can last a lifetime
One footnote: I’d like to think the vacation contributed to a continuance of the marital harmony we all witnessed. Shortly after the weekend, my grandniece became engaged to a charming, sensitive, and attentive young man—a listener! May they, too, celebrate 60 years of joy together!