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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Family Political Differences

By Jo Ann Mann of Along the Way

I have a dearly loved respected family member who has been a most significant person throughout my entire life and will always be regarded as such. As often occurs in relationships between older and younger family members, there may be a period of time when one (usually the younger) looks up to the other (generally the older) regarding them as more experienced and knowledgeable.

The years pass by and while the age differences are always separated by the same span of years, the experience and knowledge of both individuals begins to evolve into a more equal state whether or not both individuals recognize this has occurred (sometimes the older one does not or simply doesn’t accept such a fact.)

In this particular instance, the older one has been experiencing some sensory limitations. This occasionally presents unfair challenges. The result is that older person having great difficulty formulating quick concise responses, launching timely offenses, to hold their own on issues of disagreement as they once did.

Given that the older one's delight in life has been being a devil’s advocate on topics, simply to stimulate thinking and reasoning, whether it be with the children or adults, such an obstacle at this stage of life seems quite unfair. Yet, this can be one of life’s changes with which some, and their loved ones, must cope as we age.

I must admit my patience is sometimes stretched to its very limits during conversations. Other times, unexpected competitive impulses emerge causing me to want to exploit my opponent’s obvious weaknesses in more than just the point of view.

I strain, resisting seizing the discussion point from which to launch a grand coup d’etat because I know there will be unintended ricochet damage to my opponent’s already weakened ego from health and aging assaults. So, I resist; where would be the victory in such circumstances?

This political season has presented especially difficult challenges as we have come to occupy profoundly opposite positions on how best to chart this nation’s future.

The greeting message for callers to my loved one's Skype account is:

“Those who do not learn from past mistakes are doomed to repeat them. None are so blind as those who will not see. Those who bury their head in the sand expose their rear end to predators.”

I have paraphrased that message, (with which I totally agree, BTW,) to this on my Skype account:

“None are so blind as those whose head is buried in the sand exposing their rear ends to predators while deluding themselves by loudly pronouncing that others cannot see. They have not learned from past mistakes, so are doomed to repeat them.”

I expect others are encountering major political differences with friends and loved ones. I wonder how they're able to civilly cope, maintain or even nurture respect, love and affection with one another despite the sometimes bitter discourse pundits and politicians foster to divide us from each other?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Sometimes with a quick comment and a side glance to see if the topic is going to set off fireworks. Sometimes with an all out frontal assault if the topic is deemed too important to use the side glance technique. My favorite is the "wander in and drop a comment into the conversation then wander out but stay in hearing distance" technique which lets the listener lob in comments, but keep a safe distance. Sounds a lot like war strategies, but it keeps us all sane during this time. There is also the final peacemaker, my Mother. When she talks, we all listen and shut up (until later).

I change the subject when they bring up politics. No one is going to change his/her position, so why even broach the subject?

I have a friendship that spans 48 years. The friend's politics is diametrically opposite to mine and when George Bush was elected I tried changing his mind. I almost lost the friendship when I came on too strong so I have learned two things. Be more diplomatic and never talk politics with a good friend. For the 10 years that I sent him articles and pointed out what to me was the fallacy of his thinking my logic fell on deaf ears so I had to choose - keep the friend or prove him wrong. I chose the former.

There are some people that will never change their minds so I have also quit trying with a family member. I tend to be opinionated and that is not good. When the family member hung up on me after I argued with a statement he made I decided to back off and never talk politics again with close friends and relatives.

I forgot to add my motto now. Never try to teach a pig to sing; you will frustrate yourself and confuse the pig.

I have been through your frustration. I broke up with someone I cared about because I couldn't handle the rhetoric (among other issues). It reminds me of a very old joke: I met Mr. Right -- I didn't know he was ALWAYS right.

Thanks for bringing up what's is happening in many families, friendships and relationships.

I married into a very large family of devout republicans.

There seem to be hundreds of them but really there are about 30.

These people would vote for
Homer Simpson if he were on the republican ticket.

I have gotten along with all of them for years because we NEVER discuss politics. The way I figure is, neither Mitt Romney or Barack Obama would give me the time of day unless they wanted my vote and as soon as they got it it would be "Good bye" to me.

But my family has stuck by me through thick and thin over many years and I would never jeopardize that relationship on the altar of politics. It is just not worth it to me;and apparently not to them either because they never bring up politics when I am present.

This arrangement has worked for many years..

Hey! These comments are great food for thought: Bonnie's techniques, Brenda's fast-thinking, Darlene's pig, Kay's Mr. Right, and Nancy -- I know someone who will derive moral support from your tale of surviving over-whelming numbers of in-law Repubs.

Darlene's pig maxim is going to keep me sane through this election cycle. I'm smiling, thinking of it. I can handle differences of opinion. However, among our social group, there's the voiced opinion that if you don't agree with the majority of the group, it's because "you refuse to be educated." (I'll let you guess the political leanings of the rest of the group.) Darlene's little maxim is going to help me keep my own mouth shut and refrain from trying to turn their harangue into a discussion, expecting a civilized give and take that just isn't going to happen.

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