“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.”
~Alexis de Tocqueville
You know, sometimes I take a lot of things about J. for granted (he’s a really impressive specimen), but now and then his stellar points are highlighted. A friend recently took me aside to ask if J. and I are politically in sync, because she suspected we weren’t and wondered how we dealt with it. Election season has come to her house and she and her husband are not exactly aligned. I was torn between thinking, “Oh, look, we are the very model of a modern [major] marriage,” and, “Ha! Fooled another one!” But on reflection, I was reminded again just how much I appreciate J. for the fact that he profoundly respects my right to disagree.
Working at a police department gives me ample evidence that not all marriages are like this. Our congregation, nice as it can be, often provides examples that not all marriages are like this. Even among some friends I’ve seen relationships made of people who do not respect the right to have differing opinions. And this has always bothered me because it seems like such a basic human thing – if I demand the right to think and believe what I will, without reference to any other person, surely that means I have an obligation to render than same right to others. My marriage is like that, all my close friendships are like that, but is it a commonality or a rare thing?
It is shocking to me how many people in marriages, partnerships, and friendships do not give one another the right to disagree. How do you get through the day, much less an election season! Every opinion is a potential battle, every thought a potentially traitorous action – it must be exhausting. I know it is, I’ve seen so many people exhausted by it.
J. and I are not politically aligned (he’s center, I’m left of center), we’re not identical religiously, and widely divided on sports – but it doesn’t matter. Our ethics line up, the values we look for in others we find in one another, we are a team. When we disagree, we assume that the other person has come to their opinion through thought, personal experience, and logic, and we do not call one another idiots, bombard one another with new clippings (of varying degrees of authenticity), or rail against the other. We do not make it a project to overhaul one another consciences.
I used to think this sort of relationship was normal. I’m starting to wonder if I’m lucky.
Sound off, ducklings, I know many of you have wonderful friendships and relationships unaffected by dogmas of any kind. Have you ever been in a situation where dogma made a work relationship, friendship, or family situation uncomfortable (goodness knows I have!), and how did you make it work? Restore my faith in people during political open season!