Picking Up the Pieces

by Hannah Cowart

Delivered at Northwest Universalist Unitarian Congregation

November 2, 2016

My father and I have very different political beliefs.  Surprise!

In the past, we’ve followed that rule that has kept many families on speaking terms for generations. We’ve avoided discussions about politics like the plague.

But this time it’s different. We couldn’t control ourselves. I had that feeling I sometimes get when I’m in the vicinity of third piece of delicious chocolate cake . . . I know I shouldn’t do it, but I couldn’t help it. So, I did the forbidden–I brought up the two names that have been overwhelming my news feed for months. And then HE did the forbidden.  He responded. And before we knew it, we were there, exasperated. Looking at each other like we lived on different planets.

It was his birthday party weekend. A surprise for his 60th trip around the sun. Family and friends came in from across the Southeast. It was a once in a lifetime gathering, and there we were on the verge of disowning each other or at the very least passing severe judgment in each other’s direction.

After I had time to cool down, I wondered: how many parties have been ruined this election season? How many Thanksgiving meals will be destroyed?

I love my Dad . . . and, I’m his daughter so he HAS to love me. There are a few core issues that are driving my political passion this election season. And, I have to admit that my Dad’s passions probably come from the same source . . . we just have different issues at the top of our lists. Some of us may see economics as a core human rights issue, while passion about abortion rights may top the list for others. And we look at each other like aliens for not having identical lists. Our politics can be as unique as our personalities, so it’s no surprise that we disagree so strongly.

I’m slightly grateful that this political uproar has created an environment where passions are rising so high that it’s difficult, or near impossible, to follow that “no politics” rule.  How can I be honest about my passions and politics without jeopardizing my relationships? How do I bring my efforts inward–focusing on the love I share, with my dad, and others, and not let my relationships be permanently scarred?

I may be preaching a little here, but I’m definitely not in the choir. Perhaps like some of you, I’ve unfriended a number of people on Facebook and left many a room steaming, shaking my head in disbelief over the past few months. But I will be with my family this Thanksgiving, and hopefully, many Thanksgivings to come. We will experience the joy of our family growing soon and inevitably the sorrow when it shrinks, but the foundation of our connection to each other HAS to be love, forgiveness and acceptance. We will muddle through the end of this election season probably much like we’ve muddled through the other excruciating times in our lives. It won’t be pretty, but if nothing else, I’m grateful for being forced to practice what I preach . . . especially when it’s hard.