Dear Little –
You were born in a particularly crazy year of politics. I can’t imagine a more tense political climate since I’ve been on this Earth.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the politics of things you find near and dear to your heart. For me, women’s rights (especially now that you’re here!), equality in all people to experience love & marriage without being ostracized, and general fairness to all people of this country are the biggest concerns for me. With Barack Obama going in for re-election (our first African-American president – it’s a big deal!) and Mitt Romney (the previous governor of Massachusetts, the state you were born in) and a very polarized political climate, things are more crazy and charged than I’ve seen in modern history.
I saw something this week on Facebook (the social networking website of the 2010s) where a person told a friend of mine that she “didn’t know him anymore” because he wouldn’t vote the same way she did. For some reason, I felt the need to butt in and talk some sense to her and the others attacking him for his political belief structure. I hope someday you’ll be able to walk the line between ideologies that might be very different from yours, hold your ground but also defend those who feel differently than you. It’s a good skill to have, and something that will come in handy in more situations than you can imagine.
–If you decide to enter into discourse, be informed. Actual information trumps rhetoric anytime. Cite articles that are bi-partisan, and use data to back up your assertions. And again, no name calling or personal attacks. Remember you are entering the discussion to comment on the political points, not to call someone a socialist, or mention that “I thought I knew you”. You still know that person, and probably have had good times with that person as a human being – because they don’t believe exactly what you do is not necessarily cause to write them off as a person.
–Be kind and no low-blows. Attacking someones personal character makes you look petty and small. Instead, look to facts, and stay away from calling someone a doody-head (or worse. We’ll talk about those words later!) Your impression of someones character has no place in a discussion on politics.
–Stand up for what you believe in; however, recognize that someone might feel differently than you do AND that doesn’t make them a bad person. In religion and in politics, having a discussion with someone who believes something different from you do can be one of the most rewarding or frustrating conversations you can ever have. It’s up to you to hold up your end of the bargain and engage in this as a discussion, not an attack. Be courteous, informed, and open to other view points.
– Common sense will rule a discussion if the other parties are in a rational state of mind. But, sometimes people aren’t in a rational state of mind, and you can’t do anything about it. Instead of banging your head against a wall, recognize that sometimes it is better to walk away than continue to engage. It’s going to be hard for you (I’m very competitive, and your father can be, too!), but being diplomatic does in the end make you a better person. I know you can do it!
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to you. Stand up for yourself, what you believe in (especially if it’s something that belittles other people or their equality) but do so smartly.