All weekend I was composing (in my mind) what would be the subject of my next blog. I’ll assume it’s obvious to those who ‘got’ my Tour de France posting three weeks back. The title would be something to the effect of “IN THE THROES OF WITHDRAWAL…MORE DIFFICULT THAN KICKING HEROIN”. Of course people would think ‘Peter never kicked heroin’ or ‘what’s the joke’….haha. Then I’d go into this spiel about watching the Tour de France every day for the last three weeks and how this was the most exciting tour in years and how was I to fill those empty hours now that the big race had completed the last day on the streets of Paris. That would be really cute, but then something happened that I thought may be more meaningful.
I try to follow the old time wisdom of not discussing religion or politics with friends (or acquaintances). I’m pretty good at it….when the topic turns to those subjects I either steer the conversation in a different direction or bid a fond farewell for a pressing engagement. I do this because I’m better at writing down my thoughts than at verbalizing them. When I do have an encounter I spend the next several days thinking that I could have said this or that and how it would have stopped that blowhard in his/her tracks. Plus I don’t really care that much about discussing those subjects….I know what I believe and feel, based on my own experiences, as does the other person, and minds are not easily changed so why try…..that’s just who I am, good, bad or otherwise.
But….you saw it coming….Sunday I was suckered into just such a conversation during brunch at a friend’s home. Margaret and I were speaking with another guest when the topic turned to traveling in parts of this country that have little ethnic diversity. The protagonist stated it’s in these locals one still found true America…..by which she meant ‘white’ America. Then she went on to say that big cities have become so ‘homogenized’ that it was no longer her America. I just couldn’t let that comment slip by (even though I now feel she was baiting us). A heated argument ensued with each of us hurling barbs at the other. She insisted that our government has systematically instructed all law enforcement to freely allow any potential immigrant into the country, unlike the era of Ellis Island when everyone came in legally and all were model citizens. I said it was unlikely that our borders are that porous and I doubted every immigrant in the early twentieth century came in legally, blah, blah, blah. It went back and forth expanding from illegal immigrants to other subjects that we would never agree on. The piece de’ resistance came when I questioned whether she was in agreement with the comments Donald Trump had made in the past couple weeks; she responded; ‘at least he’s brave enough to say what many people are thinking’ (crazy people!). I came away thinking this woman was unaware that she’s a racist. That’s where the conversation ended.
Margaret and I stayed after all had left the brunch and I told the host about the confrontation. He and I are pretty much on the same page regarding many issues. He said he’d made it a policy with this couple never to discuss politics or religion because of the experience I had just had. We agreed that people that far right (or that far left) will in no way listen to other points of view. These are the same people who believe all the rubbish spewed from the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh on the right and Stephanie Miller and Bill Press on the left. Whether these political pundits believe what they’re saying is not the point…the point is many listeners live by their words.
The truth is I don’t care what you believe just so your belief system doesn’t call for hurting anyone. Republican, Democrat, Jew or Christian….it’s fine with me. I have friends with views far different than mine but we remain friends based on character, not what our personal belief system may be. I like to keep in mind that we’re each raised by people who had views that have influenced our own views. If the protagonist at Sunday’s brunch just happened to be raised by my parents our conversation may have been very different (that’s right, she’d be my sister, duh!). People change beliefs as they age, we become our own person with a foundation starting in childhood and developed by life experiences. I promise that I’ll listen to your views with an open mind if you’ll listen, with an open mind, to mine. But to be honest, I’d rather discuss this year’s awesome Tour de France….it was tres magnifique!