The most polarizing position you can take these days is uninhibited love.
When June hit, it was you who took me in for who I am. It was you who loved me unconditionally. It was you who welcomed my questions. You accepted me fully as a complicated, conflicted halfie. As my political views split with my bi-ethnicity, you gave me the space to feel whole again—to walk the other side without any expectation that I would stay there.
As the unrest for racial justice reached a boiling point, I did too. When one half of me was supposed to feel shame and the other half was supposed to feel empowered, you told me, no.
You are whole. You are heard. You are loved.
So today, I’m sticking out my neck for you. It’s the least I can do, to say to you, my friends who voted red:
You are whole. You are heard. You are loved.
I’m sorry that I ever doubted you. Maybe I don’t even deserve your flame. Still, this summer and fall, as my leftist friends were too scared to take off their masks and have an uncensored conversation, we gathered around campfires too closely perhaps and talked.
When so much of the left was busy blocking you on Facebook, I was adding you. I was fraternizing with the enemy, and in a way, you were too. Independents are everyone’s best friend and favorite enemy in 2020. In light of that division, I am eternally grateful that you welcomed me into your ring of fire. I am grateful for you this Thanksgiving.
We’ve come to know each other so well, so quickly. Remember research papers in high school that explored both or multiple sides of the story? Remember all those citations?
We are the sources now. We are the news.
You. Me. Our (likely government-recorded) phone calls. Our hangouts that break both rules and ground. This is the layered story I had been searching for in all those history books.
Why has it been so hard to find this connection? Perhaps it’s because the extreme left has a hold on truth, like a tangled rubber band cutting off the circulation of one hand while the other feels helpless to save it. Perhaps our connection is so rare because there is a deficit of wonder. There is a slashing of questions and a cry of biased exclamations.
The truth is made of all of us. I’m seeing more evidence of this in my red and purple conversations with you and with those folks who favor blue.
This is the truth we seem to agree on: The 2020 US Election splits the people who want to be free and the people who want to be ruled over.
Both sides whisper in my ear: “Freedom or slavery, the choice is clear. I’m afraid we’re going to lose the country to authoritarianism. This is my worst fear and I can’t even talk to my own daughter about it.”
I see our country as a pair of hands. One hand is tangled in a band of lies. The other hand is reaching for freedom of speech and thought.
I’m not sure which hand is the left and which hand is the right. Sometimes I’m not sure if you’re as righteous as you believe you are.
With malice toward none, I’m here today to remind myself, you, and any who are reading along: “When hate is loud, love must be louder.”
To my friends who voted red: I’m tired of hiding my love for you. I’m tired of hiding my admiration and my intrigue. If a love letter will get me more hate mail than friend requests, then so be it because I have something more to say:
Your rogue freedom is a force of nature. I love that you seek to break free from the establishment. You make me long for the days when it was cool to fight the system. I wonder: How can this force be strengthened and to what end?
As I see you struggling to shine light on the left, I can understand why. I watched the left masked in black swarm your diverse red sea at the recent “Million MAGA March.” I watched the young anchors of Right Side Broadcasting Network beaming with bliss on the sidelines only to have their live video coverage removed from YouTube for no good reason. I watched Jorge Ventura cover Black Lives Matter picking a fight with a gay conservative couple. I stopped my scrolling as BLM yanked a Trump flag from an elderly woman. Call it bias, call it perspective, but I saw what I saw.
I’ve observed so much of both sides, and I can’t sit back as any human being gets chased and beaten, especially when those human stories are being demonetized by tech giants. The left gets much of the establishment, the media, the celebrities, even the laughs of late-night comedy. They get so much support. Why? What is it about even just the color red that provokes a fear of passion?
Red reminds me of the heart, which is something you, my friends who voted red, have a lot of. You have a lot of love to give, and whether it is going in the “right” or “wrong” direction is not for me to determine.
Many believe President Trump is an abuser and you are the victims. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I can see that angle. If it is that simple, I have no intention of forcing you into victim consciousness. There is a difference between supporting the man and supporting you. Embracing that difference could be a stepping stone to the truth we are all destined for.
For the sake of the bigger picture, I’m open to listening to each other. World Tolerance Day has come and gone with too little awareness.
Meanwhile, the English language polarizes too quickly. We have the rolls of the eyes that come with “tolerance” and the genuine embrace of “acceptance.” In Turkish, the word for tolerance is “tahammül” and acceptance is “kabul.” In between, the word “geçinmek” means tolerating something calmly and “dözüm” speaks to patience. Perhaps we can find a place like this in between.
Our home of Pennsylvania could become a riotous battleground or it could become a peaceful playground where we embrace what it means to be in a swing state—to swing between the polls and open up the discussion where people of all perspectives can share freely without fear.
During the election, Pennsylvania seemed to be put on stage as an experiment and it still is. Here and around the nation, there is more than a villain or a savior. There is common ground.
That commonality vibrates in what many of you have shown me: radical acceptance. When hate is loud, love must be louder… even if your love for me is waning. The revolution is in the release, not the resistance. It is in the release of hate. I know that now. My calls for unity are not hollow. They are grounded. They are trust. They are love. I promise.