The other day, I was whining to my son (turnabout is fair play!) about having to watch the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” again. It’s become his entertainment of choice, and I hate it. I HATE IT. So I told him that if he keeps liking it, we can’t be friends.
And then he schooled me: “Dad, we can still be friends even if we don’t like the same things.”
Stupid kids and their innocent wisdom making me feel dumb. Too bad he’s wrong.
Remember my post about politics? A lot of people disagreed, both with my choice of topic and my choice for president. Disagreement is fine. I actually enjoy a good verbal tussle! But these days, few people seem to be able to disagree without getting nasty about it, especially when it comes to politics.
The NY Times recently shared a disturbing video of the crowd at Trump rallies spewing hate towards Hillary Clinton, towards Muslims and Mexicans, towards anyone who disagrees with them. The video is unsettling and even scary, and the worst part is that a presidential nominee is fomenting these reactions. Sad!
Not only does he rile them up until they are nothing short of frothing at the mouth, assaulting protesters, and practically “seig heil”-ing their nominee, in that video some of them actually chant about killing his political opponent. Then, yesterday, he went ahead and asked them to! This man is running for president!
Call it “speaking his mind”, call it a refreshing “lack of political correctness,” call it whatever you want. What Trump is really doing is legitimizing hate (inasmuch as a man of his dubious character and accomplishments can legitimize anything) for a large segment of the population that, for a variety of reasons, has a lot of it. Trump’s incendiary, exclusionary, violent rhetoric is on TV every single day, and it’s trickling down. It has been for months. He keeps going further, and bringing his supporters with him.
On the subway recently, I took a picture of one passenger suspiciously eyeing another because she was in a burqa. I can’t know that man’s mind – and of course I have no idea if he’s voting for Trump, Hillary, Jill Stein, or even voting at all – but he stared at her the entire ride, in a not-friendly way, and there was palpable tension. She seemed to take it in stride – it’s surely not the first time someone was curious about her wardrobe – but I was relieved when he got off the train.
When I posted that image on Instagram and expressed my concern for the tenor of the country’s mood, the comments quickly devolved into bigotry and hate, and I actually blocked a man who called another commenter a “cunt.” (Thanks for proving my point, psycho!)
What is going on here? This is not the country in which I want to raise my kids. Can’t we all just get along? Sometimes I’m not so sure. But sometimes, despite the national mood and because of the incredible people in my life, I know we can. Because hope trumps hate.
Last month, the Buried clan spent two weeks in North Carolina, a state seemingly obsessed with bringing us back to the dark ages of racial discrimination while simultaneously limiting the rights of people in the LGBT community. But that’s not the North Carolina we saw, and it’s not the place we lived just a few short years ago. It was a working trip for Mom and Buried and I, but we had some fun, and saw some old friends.
Two good friends let us stay at their house, and thank god for that, because living somewhere else for an extended period of time is not cheap. Did I mention we were there for two weeks? With two kids. One of whom is a baby? And they also let us use their beach house on the weekends. With my in-laws? “Good” doesn’t begin to describe these friends. They’re amazing friends. They’re amazing people. They’re like extra-evolved. They are so bizarrely generous it makes me suspicious. (I am less evolved.)
Those two weeks were spent in a starkly divided state basking in the hospitality of a gay couple whose lives, families, friends, and community are negatively affected by the hateful HB2 legislation, during a Republican National Convention that featured a man who seeks to divide the country. Our friends wouldn’t even allow the RNC to air in their home because of the message being spewed, and who can blame them?
Trump’s ascendancy makes me nervous, there’s no denying that, but it surely makes my friends more nervous. Because even when he’s long gone, the hate and fear he’s dredged up – and the people he’s mobilized behind it – will still be around. (The aforementioned NY Times video contains footage from two rallies in North Carolina, one of which features a man being called a “fag” by Trump supporters.) It worries me that my sons are growing up in a country marred by such anger and violence and intolerance. But so long as they have role models like their honorary Uncles Roger and Pete, I have hope.
Hope that we can find common ground, that despite our differences – whether they be political, religious, sexual, or otherwise – we are all human beings.
After all, these two guys love a city we couldn’t get out of fast enough (though not for any of the reasons currently being discussed), they have some terrible, terrible taste in movies that I can’t help insulting even as they let me sit in their Brookstone Massage Chair and watch whatever I want, and next to their shining paradigm of generosity, hospitality, and kindness, I am a terrible, terrible person, but we still manage to get along.
Because despite how it sometimes seems, despite what I said at the top, my five-year-old is not wrong: we can still be friends even if we don’t like the same things.
Especially if the things we do like include voting against Donald Trump.