For the past 5 days, I’ve been thinking about whether I should write anything about the election here in the US. I decided not to, because tensions are running high and it would be too easy to be misunderstood in this particular space.
But I do want to tell you that I consider myself very lucky to have a very diverse group of friends. If you want to label us, then we have everything from conservative Christians to Communists. I am happy that we have come through this election cycle largely unscathed, although there have been times when we had to simply stop talking about politics. Whether I agree or disagree with my friends about their viewpoints, fact is that each of them enriches my life, in many different ways. I have learned from all of them. So, listen,
- If you get invited to a Hanukkah celebration, and you don’t want to go because you don’t know anything about the Jewish faith, you go. Because if you are respectful, you won’t do anything wrong and you can quiz each other on your knowledge of the Old Testament.
- If you get invited to a Nigerian baptism celebration, and you don’t want to go because you might be the only white person there, you go. Because it’s good to know what it’s like to be the odd one out and Nigerian food is delicious.
- If you get invited to a Filipino nightclub, and you don’t want to go because there is a good chance that you’ll be one of the tallest people there, you strap on your high heels and you go. Because the view will be great, and some guys like to hang out with girls who are taller than them.
- If you get invited to spend a long weekend with your friend’s family in Bumblefuck, Nebraska, and you don’t want to go because it’s a long drive and you’ll have to share a room with your friend and her two younger sisters, you go. Because you’ll have the time of your life, and the bartender at the only bar in town probably won’t notice or care if your ID is fake.
- If you feel uncomfortable going to a place you don’t know and where you won’t know anyone, you take a self-defense class, brush up on your small-talk skills, and you go. Because it will broaden your horizon.
- And if you feel yourself getting complacent in your thinking, you go and find yourself some friends who challenge you. Because that will keep you honest.
Once you get to this point, you are in a good place, because you’ll know that your friends will call your BS. When you start defending the rights of one religion while ridiculing another, they will point out the hypocrisy. When you start making statements that involve words like “all” and “never,” they will remind you that the SAT tutor already warned you of these words, because they usually signal a wrong choice. When you think that maybe it’s not so bad that people burn the effigy of someone, they will ask how you would feel if that effigy were of someone else. When you get lazy, they will show you how words can break a heart and numbers can be made to lie. When tables are turning and you suddenly argue the opposite from what you used to say, they will wonder when you changed your mind and point out the flaws in your thinking. When you are hurting, they will reach out even if they don’t understand, because that’s the right thing to do and that’s what friends are for.
If we all strove to make friends with people who don’t think like us, who don’t look like us, and who don’t act like us, imagine how quickly the world would open up. Imagine how easy it would be to make this a different place. Imagine what we could do.