Monday, January 19, 2009

Differing Views

Sitting watching the big Steelers game yesterday (woo hoo, go Steelers), my sister in law asked me if I voted in the presidential elections. Of course I did, I told her. It was a momentous vote for our country. She told me she had become a big McCain fan in the months leading up to the vote, and I told her I had noticed the sticker on her car.

We chatted pleasantly about the election and the country and the inauguration scheduled for tomorrow. I know my entire married-into family is rife with card carrying elephants. And that is just fine with me. I often walk a thin line at family gatherings and have been known to leave the room when everyone around is making assumptions of my agreement. I just don't want to get into it.

During the discussion with my sister in law, I was happy that she let me have my opinions, even though I didn't come right out and "confess" my affiliations. I did tell her that I came to abhor Palin and her inability to string a sentence together. She on the other hand loved her, still loves her and is mad at Katie Couric for her treatment of her.

Which brings me to my point. Over the last year, amid all the vitriol and outrage and opinions, one thing seemed crystal clear to me; I knew who I'd be voting for and why. So if the "right" decision was so clear to me , why did so many in my circle seems to see things so differently.

It's like walking out of a movie laughing to turn and see your friends crying. How can so many people see the same thing in so many different ways.

I'm not suggesting we all think alike and look alike and be alike. I like variety and I like being different. In fact, I said that to my daughter yesterday when we ran into the grocery store for a few Steelers game snacks, with our Steelers jerseys on. She worried that we'd be the only ones in the store with Steelers stuff on. What a funny thing to worry about. But what I think she was saying is she is not always comfortable going against the grain.

It can be a lonely place.

But what I mean is I was surprised that so many I love and care for didn't see things the same way I saw them. We watched the same interviews, read the same reports, looked at the same web sites. And while I thought Couric did just fine interviewing Palin, my family thought she was skewered.

So, I suppose as my friend Kristin writes, variety is a key to community, and disagreements can be handled with grace and compassion. I do so hope that those who feel like "their guy" didn't win can become involved in the process, and be agents of change rather than vocally angry, relishing a perceived disenfranchisement.

I will still have my opinions and I will share them appropriately, and I will be thankful that we live in a place where dissent is not only allowed but a vital part of how we live.


  1. What a great post, Jen. You perfectly captured that confusion we feel when something is so clear to us, and so clearly opposite to someone else. Especially when it's someone we know and love, not just someone being interviewed on the news.

    In the weeks leading up to the election, I found myself having far less patience with undecided voters than with McCain loyalists. (In fact, Jason and I went to a Halloween party dressed up as "undecided voters," even though a friend thought I'd make a perfect Sarah Palin!)It wasn't fair of me to feel this way, but it was so impossible for me to understand how someone could not know what they stand for.

    I have a lot of work to do when it comes to accepting variety in my community. At least I can see one significant change in me over the past few years: it's more important to me to see people pushing against stereotypes and allowing others to embrace what might feel like contradictory ideas, than it is for people to see things exactly like I do.

  2. Absolutely. Undecided voters had me wringing my hands. It wasn't like there were two nearly identical candidates. Variety, stereotypes, all good things to ponder.