|My family doesn't look like this. If I'm the one in pink, you need to add another Mom and two step-sisters, though we probably maybe wouldn't all hold hands. Just imagine me in the middle. . .|
One of them is with my father. That's the entry I've wanted to write. But I'll be honest: to say that it is complicated is a severe understatement.
I love my father as every daughter loves her father - the person who gave me shoulder rides and taught me to roast marshmallows over an open fire and taught me to think and discuss politics. But there's the rub - the politics.
I have landed in a political position that differs from his. I hoped for many years that we had gotten to a place of mutual respect, though. That despite us having significant differences in our beliefs, we respect that each of us was an adult and was capable of making reasoned and rational decisions regarding what we valued - and how we communicated those values in our elected leaders.
Then Dad joined Facebook.
And honestly, I'm not sure what to say after that. Over the course of these past three years, he has decided that I am a snobby, college-professor-talkin', rude, "THE LEFT" liberal who lacks respect, while I have decided that his internet persona is a sort of id-release for a snarling and angry personality who is convinced that we are a nation of Godless moochers and that the only answer is the eradication of social programs, a completely free market, and guns for all. He calls the President stupid (along with another extra special slur he whipped out a few times in cute old nursery rhymes and colloquialisms to cover up the depth of his offense) along with all other liberals, who he has grouped as "The Left" and demonizes daily.
What I know of him on the Internet is so utterly opposite his face-to-face behavior, I have a huge difficulty reconciling them. Some days, I'd like nothing more than to defriend him and pretend that this internet persona didn't exist at all.
But I'm sad that it does. Let me be clear: I am not saddened that his beliefs differ from mine. Obviously, I value what I value and I highly doubt that will change. The same stands for him. We disagree, neither can see why the other holds the beliefs and values that they do, but that's fine. What's not fine is the bickering and berating and talking down (accusations fly from both sides, of course). And I don't know what to do with that.
Back in the day, when I was a dual major in History and English, I was fascinated by the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars. Not by the events so much as the psychology. I wonder what the dinner table must have been like each evening. How did families survive that sort of thing - was the blood bond of birth stronger than politics? Then again - this was more than just politics - these were matters of deep values and world-shaping points of view. How did families survive being so different?
I don't know. I really don't. But I'm willing to bet being face to face at the dinner table diffused a lot of anger and that one downfall (or blessing? I don't know) of the internet is the fact that now we know what everybody is thinking. Particularly about us.
My father is a good man with a big heart. It does me well to remember that - and to accept that there are always aspects of those we love that we don't love. I hope he will do the same. In the meantime, I will return to my previous rule of non-engagement and remember that lovely quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
Addendum: I realize that this is completely awkward and incomplete. As I said, I've struggled with what to say. I still don't know. But I can't keep waiting. I have to get it out.