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Can you tolerate the "other" side?

Friday, 30 October, 2020 - 2:23 pm

The Other Side.jpg

I was very disturbed by what I saw recently. Someone forwarded to me a clip of two television personalities discussing how they had severed relationships with people who didn’t agree with them politically. I’ve seen it up close as well, people cutting from their lives those who don’t agree with them politically.

I fully understand the concerns that people have with the various differing opinions. I understand what is pushing people to vote one way or another. But I cannot accept that any political decision is worth denouncing another individual or cutting them from your life.

This poisonous attitude is not exclusive to one side or the other but it is a result of a number of converging factors. One cause is certainly the over-the-top rhetoric that has become so common in modern political discourse. The second factor and perhaps the more dangerous of the two, is the unspoken notion that the way politics unfold or who wins the elections, is supremely important in my life. 

It is not my intention to minimize the significance of the various policy differences on the ballot; of course they matter and that’s why we vote. But if you’ve found yourself hating the “other side”, if you can’t tolerate someone with a different opinion, if your view of another is diminished due to their political choice, it’s high time for an intervention. 

Someone once put it to me this way - what’s happening in the White House is not relevant to your house. 

Yes, yes, I know - but taxes! And health care! COVID!! How could I say it’s not relevant to my house!?

Sure, government policies affect all of us. But they should never be the driver of our lives. What the government does or doesn’t do shouldn’t affect my ability to live my life. And if you’re so distraught about politics that it’s affecting your ability to live, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. 

The guiding forces in our lives should be values that are not dependent on the occupant of the White House (or any other political office). It’s imperative to elevate our life with a value system that transcends the world of politics - and for that matter, one that transcends the trials and tribulations of daily life. 

Our introduction to our forefather Abraham in this week’s Torah portion provides some guidance in this regard. The name Abraham (at this point in the narrative still known as Abram) connotes a connection with supernal wisdom. His life was guided by a higher set of values than anything contained in this world. That’s why he never feared the challenges he faced - and they were many - his true existence was above the fray of daily life. That’s how he managed to navigate life so well.

It’s virtually impossible to maintain perspective when we’re inside the maze of life. We need to be able to rise above in order to successfully navigate our way through. 

This is true with regard to politics and it’s true with regard to all aspects of life - in order to succeed, we must remain connected above.

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