Perhaps you’re in a home filled with incredible tension whenever a political topic comes up. You cringe when a beloved family member turns to that news channel you hate. You quickly leave the room when the subject of the recent election comes up. If this is you, you are not alone. I urge you to not let these tense situations take away from the true meaning of Christmas, yet I understandingly ask you to consider a few ways of easing this stress.
First of all, remember that differences in political opinions, while sometimes controversial, are mainly about how government should be run. This is one way I remind myself not to be frustrated. While it is important and impacts us often, how the government is run does not change who God is or whether we can show His love to those around us.
My other way of focusing my thoughts, which I have found to be the most helpful, is to remember the foremost values on both sides of the political spectrum. As a college student studying Public Administration, I was often asked to focus on the values of different social, political, and regional groups in order to understand why they behave (and vote) in different ways. I have taken this act into my personal relationships so I can avoid hurt and frustration and instead focus on what is important.
If you can remember that the values of other political parties are values which are good and wholesome in themselves, you can remember that we are all individuals who wish the best for our country. Looking at these lists, remember that these values offer different ways of providing safety, health, and happiness for Americans. Join me in focusing on the good of the two major political ideologies in the United States.
- Human rights (primarily in concern for unborn babies)
- Human rights (primarily in concern for racial, sexual, and romantic minorities)
These lists are by no means exhaustive, nor do they apply to every person who considers themselves conservative or liberal, yet looking at their simplicity can remind us that differences in values do not equate to terrible people. If a friend of yours primarily values social equality, while you care more about personal defense, remember that these are two ways that individuals feel our country is best run. Each value in the lists above is good in and of itself.
I challenge you to think of ways that you apply values of the opposite ideology in your own life. When a family member says something you don’t agree with, take a moment to remember that what he or she values in life may be different than what you value, but that their values are meant to bring about a better country.
Have a wonderful holiday season, and I pray you focus on the good and enjoy time with loved ones.